Beyond The Classroom...

Academic Year 2020 - 2021

Monday, February 1, 2021

POST #101 - do I handle the Denial Letter?


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

At this point, many seniors have heard from their respective colleges in one of four ways:

  1. ACCEPTED!! (blog post on last Wednesday)

  2. DEFERRED!! (blog post on last Thursday)

  3. WAITLISTED!! (blog post last Friday)

  4. NOT ACCEPTED!! DENIED!! (today’s blog post)

Today, it is straight talk about receiving a denial letter from a college or university… you have options? The answer is YES.... but the option provided at each college or university is sometimes well hidden or hard to understand. And, at each school, the process may be somewhat different. Keep in mind that colleges rarely change the decision unless they have misunderstood information in the application package.

When a student receives a denial letter from a college, he/she has the option to accept the denial and move forward with another college/university OR he/she has the option to appeal the denial.

Up front, it is important that a student realize that an appeal is for a valid reason not just simply to ask for the college/university to take a second look at his/her credentials. Trust me…prior to a college or university denying a student, each institution of higher learning has looked at each student's application and supporting materials numerous times by several different individuals, so the appeal is not for an additional look.

Here are some reasons for an appeal:

  1. Something was erroneously presented on your transcript that you have now spotted

  2. Something was erroneously presented on your application that needs to be corrected

  3. Your 1st semester grades show marked improvement as a serious student

  4. New SAT and/or ACT scores have arrived

The appeals process is NOT for the following:

  1. Your best friend got in and you just know you are a better student than he/she is.

  2. Your father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great-great grandfather all attended the university and you forgot to mention it.

  3. You plead your case because it is the only school you applied to this pass fall.

  4. You have suddenly changed your 2nd semester schedule to make it look tougher.

  5. You know someone who knows someone who knows the president of the college.

To learn more about the appeal’s process, one must go to each college/university’s website and search admission's appeal process. And then, it is imperative that the procedures be followed exactly as they are written. If you decide to appeal, it is also important to pursue another college because only about 1.5% of appeals are reversed to an acceptance - in reality, the odds are not in your favor!

Have a great Monday and an even better week!

Friday, January 29, 2021

POST #100 - Okay so you are wondering how do I handle the Waitlist Letter?


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

At this point, many seniors have heard from their respective colleges in one of four ways:

  1. ACCEPTED!! (discussed on Wednesday of this week)

  2. DEFERRED!! (discussed on Thursday of this week)

  3. WAITLISTED!! (Today's discussion)

  4. Denied!! (Next Monday's discussion)

Today, it is all about the WAITLIST letter!! Actually, most waitlisted letters don’t go out until the last possible moment in the admissions process which means “late March or early April” for most schools – some less competitive schools might send waitlist letters out a little earlier. Once you are waitlisted, it is like taking a number for your turn which may not happen until as late as June. Consequently, waitlisted at a highly competitive school such as a UNC or NCSU or Yale or University of South Carolina may mean very little because they very rarely have to go to the waitlist to accept students; and when they do, we are talking very few - many times less than 20 are admitted from the Waitlist. Most colleges don't give you a waitlist number; they simply say you are on the waitlist.

So what do you do if you are waitlisted…..

  1. Contact the college if you are interested in remaining on the waitlist and contact them if you wish to be taken off the waitlist (which allows other students an opportunity if you are no longer interested or prefer not to be in limbo).

  2. Please, Please, Please make plans at another college or university because being on a waitlist is not a promise of being accepted – if you choose to do nothing, then you may be sitting at home next year.

  3. Being on the waitlist means that they have everything to accept you so no further information is needed. At this point, it comes down to how many students decide NOT to attend said institution!

  4. It is all about Patience!

  5. Keep in mind if you decide to accept an acceptance after being waitlisted then you begin by being behind the eight ball – meaning – you are selecting your housing after everyone – you are selecting your roommate after everyone – you might even have to select your classes after everyone! Personally, this type of situation is NOT one I would choose!

To me, the waitlist letter has so many pitfalls that I would stay away from counting on it for an acceptance.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to email me at the email address at the top of the page!

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend! Are they still calling for snow this Sunday???

Thursday, January 28, 2021

POST #99 - Here is how I recommend students handle the Deferral Letter?


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

At this point, many seniors have heard from their respective colleges in one of four ways:

  1. ACCEPTED!! (We discussed this yesterday in the post.)

  2. DEFERRED!! (Today's discussion!)



Okay, you have received a letter of DEFERRAL, which means….

1. You have not been denied

2. You have not been accepted

3. You have not been waitlisted…..

so you are in limbo until a later date in the spring!! If you haven’t been accepted then deferred is the best place to be. What deferred means is that the school/college is still strongly looking at you for acceptance to their college/university...they are simply waiting to see how you compare to the students who applied in a later deadline.

In comparison, suppose you are up for a job and 20 people applied for the 3 positions. The company owner DENIES 7 an interview never giving them a shot at the job. Another 8 applicants he places on hold or WAITLIST status holding only on to them if one of the main 3 doesn’t work out for some reason. The other 5 are interviewed by the owner, and he immediately hires 2 of them (ACCEPTANCE). The final three are on call back for a 2nd interview for the third spot…they have been DEFERRED. Get it?? You are still in the running for the job just as you are still in the running to be accepted at the college/university.

So, if I am a DEFERRED applicant for a job where I will get called back in for a 2nd interview (so to speak), I need to do what I can to impress the CEO!! It is the same with a deferred applicant for college. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Contact by email your assigned counselor at the college/university….tell him/her how important it is for you to attend said school and give 2 or 3 good reasons. First and foremost, share with the college counselor that you are prepared for an interview (by Zoom or GoogleMeet) if needed because you are prepared to do whatever it takes to be accepted at said college/university.Then ask for his/her advice on how you should proceed in the deferral process.

  2. Then you contact your assigned high school counselor to make certain to tell him/her that you are prepared to send any and all of the following:

  1. First semester grades - (I hope the grades are good.)

  2. New GPA - Most likely not available at your school until the first of February!

  3. New Class Rank - Most likely not available at your school until the first of February!

  4. Any changes in a positive direction for your 2nd semester schedule…for example: you dropped being an early release student to pick up a Career and College Promise Course through the local community college or an honors course or an AP course - this is really important if you have a slack 2nd semester.

  5. New SAT or ACT scores to report

  6. Additional Recommendations

  7. New Awards or Recognitions you would like to report

In other words, expand your portfolio – share new and positive information with them. This process is all on your shoulders. They are not going to email you for more information or call to ask to speak with you for a phone interview… other words, the next step is yours!! Make the effort; it often pays large dividends such as an acceptance letter!!

Have a wonderful Thursday! I have to admit: I am hoping for some snow!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

POST #98 - Oh my...our seniors are seeing "College Decisions" begin to roll in…


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

At this point, many seniors have heard from their respective colleges in one of four ways or within the next few weeks seniors will be hearing from their colleges:




  4. DENIED!!

So now, how do you handle each type of answer? Today, we will talk about the ACCEPTED reply…Thursday the DEFERRED…..Friday the WAITLISTED…..and ugh next Monday the DENIAL LETTER!!

Okay, so you have received an acceptance letter, what next?

  1. Make certain you have visited the school or schools - I know it COVID19 times you can’t do it formally, but please go walk the school with your parents - make certain you feel you will be happy at this school.

  2. Make certain you have completed the FAFSA (Earlier posts deal specifically with what to do for the FAFSA.) And, if you have already applied for FAFSA then at this point you should have received your SAR (Student Aid Report). Look in your emails in case you missed it.

  3. Send in a deposit to the one school who ranks at the top of your list in order for the school to hold your room (Some students choose to send in a deposit to more than one school because they are uncertain which school they will attend/I have to admit that I do not advise students to do this double deposit scenario unless you do not know your financial aid package at a particular school. Keep in mind you may lose a deposit.)

  4. Complete housing info and select a roommate

  5. Fill out health forms, which includes getting info from your doctors

  6. Your final decision about a school does not have to be made until MAY 1!!! At this point, you can only select one school!!

  7. Fill out info for freshman orientation.

  8. Remember to have a final transcript sent from hour high school and any others schools you are attending for credit such as CCCC.

  9. Possibly select your courses for first semester at an early freshman registration.

You have tons to do so seek help in this process.

Have a great Wednesday! Tomorrow it is all about the Deferral letter!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

POST #97 - Calling all....JUNIORS - Pay Attention....FREE ACT Test on the horizon!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

I know…testing…not my favorite word either, but this specific test administration is an awesome opportunity for you to experience a college entrance exam for FREE!! This test administration on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 is for all juniors in the state of North Carolina. I am so proud of North Carolina for providing this opportunity for all students because even if you don’t go directly to college upon graduation from high school this test score is good for five years!

Granted, some students will say: I don't need this test; I am not going to a four year college. My reply: You are most likely certain at this time in your life, but what if you change your mind....why not be somewhat prepared with a college entrance exam under your belt??

Before taking the ACT do the following:

  1. Understand that the ACT is an achievement test so you should review concepts learned in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

  2. The ACT is a test where guessing is a smart thing to do because a wrong answer isn’t counted against the student. Answer every question! There is no penalty for a wrong answer; and if you guess and get it right, you earn points.

  3. Make certain you understand the different types of test questions provided on the ACT. Go to for prep. There is an English/Grammar section; a reading section; a math section, and a science section.

  4. Practice taking a test so you better understand how to pace yourself on test day for each type of section. Buy a book - but buy only the ACT book that is written by the folks at the ACT.

  5. Plan to be present the day of testing because it is a known fact that students do much better on testing when taken with the group on the designated date rather than taking a make-up test.

  6. Make an effort to review your PreACT test that you took during your sophomore year. The PreACT test is the precursor to the ACT. Look at the ones you missed and seek help in determining where you went wrong so that you will know how to better answer that type of question on the ACT. Study this test to see if there is a pattern in the types of questions you are missing.

  7. Remember to use your resources: go to and check out the online test prep section to practice for the test.

Some students really like the ACT over the SAT and colleges accept the ACT just like they accept the SAT. As a matter of fact, colleges East of the Mississippi River convert all ACT scores to a SAT score by using a conversion chart that can be found on the Internet by googling ACT to SAT score….so check it out.

Juniors, good luck on the ACT. Use this free opportunity to see if you like the ACT better than the SAT. If you have taken both tests, please email me with your positive and negative comments about each test for me to share with the blog followers. I am telling you about this test now so that you can prepare over the next month - so please use your time wisely!

Happy Tuesday...Isn't it a great day to be a Chatham County resident!! Thanks for reading the blog, and tell your friends about it!

Monday, January 25, 2021

POST #96 - Email:

Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

A blog follower wrote and asked if he/she needed to take the SAT/ACT if she planned to go to a community college. This is an excellent question!

The answer to this question is: NO or maybe even yes! In order to apply to a community college, one does not need to take the SAT or the ACT; however, one will have to take an entrance exam provided by the community college. Fortunately, this test provided by the community college is considered far less intense then the SAT or the ACT.......AND it is FREE. If a student knows for certain that he/she plans to attend a community college immediately after high school, then don’t waste money on taking the SAT or ACT. Fortunately, all juniors who attend a public high school in North Carolina will take the ACT for free in late February of this year, and the scores from this test are good/valid scores for five years. I do believe that if there is a slight chance a student might apply to a four year college, then, of course, the student should take an SAT or ACT.

To take this question to the next level…many ask: Do I need to take the SAT or ACT if I go to a community college for the two year college transfer program of study and then on to a four year college. The answer is: NO! So if one wants to avoid the “SAT” or “ACT,” and still wants to go to a four year college, then he/she needs to go two years to a community college and then transfer for the last two years at a four year college. In other words, transfer students do not need to take the SAT or ACT.

Some might say…Well, can I take the SAT or ACT, and if the scores are not high enough, then can I still take the community college test? Yes, by all means a student can take this route.
Yet on the other I stated earlier in this post…..Please keep in mind….if one even has a slight chance of applying to any four year college as they are in their junior or senior year of high school, then he/she needs to take the SAT and/or the ACT.

With all the changes with testing during this time of COVID19, we still need to prepare, but know that testing is changing for the time being. This year some colleges allowed students to present test scores if they so wished to do so, where some schools went test blind, meaning that they did not look at scores at all, and some colleges are still trying to figure out the testing element in the admissions process particularly through this pandemic. So, no matter what, be prepared - take the tests and let’s then take it from there.

Have a great day!! It's Monday so enjoy the week!!

Friday, January 22, 2021

POST #95 - I, as a parent, need to be focused too!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Having worked for more than thirty years in education, first as a middle school English and social studies teacher for 2 years then as a high school English and social studies teacher for a year, then as a high school counselor for 29 years, and finally as an independent college consultant for 8 years, I have all too often seen the trend where parents tend to move further and further away from involvement in their child’s school activities.

As a parent myself, I think we do it because we want our children to grow in their independence, but I contend that we need to maintain a strong involvement throughout high school modeling the positive ways a child should communicate with his/her teachers, counselors, and administrators. I firmly believe that we step away for all the right reasons, but I emphatically believe that we should not.

In the blog, I started this 2021 year off talking about ways we should teach our children to become more focused and why they should be advocates for themselves. As our children matriculate through school, we need to model the best ways to positively interact with faculty and staff of the educational system. Our children need to know it is okay to ask questions, have opinions, and to be an active part of the school community. It is our job to show them the way, and even though we do a great job at elementary and in most cases middle school; sometimes, we tend to tell them that they are on their own in high school – possibly the most important years to be involved because it is the years they are making HUGE decisions about their future.

Trust me, I am not blaming the parents at all, remember I am one of those parents, I am just saying maybe we need to rethink our role during these most important years – where students are allowed to freely select their courses, where our children begin to act independently, and where our children face difficult decisions about their future and frequently decisions that they do not even realize have huge consequences either negatively or positively on their future! We lose our children soon enough as they graduate from high school – some go to college, some go to work, some go into the military, some get married, and some travel to faraway places, so let’s make a FOCUSED effort to be an integral part of our children’s lives all thirteen years of their schooling – from Kindergarten to 12th grade – being a high schooler does not make them grown even though they often think it does!

If I had it to do over for both of my children, even though I was involved in all of their school activities, I would choose to do even more.

Let’s focus on being a positive advocate for our children and serving as role models in how to best advocate for each one of our children’s successes!!

My Advice: Stay hooked from kindergarten to 12th grade by being involved in your child's day to day work as well as their after school activities! It is so worth it! I do think it is easier today to stay involved than in the past - particularly with technology - you can email teachers, FaceTime, Skype, or rely on a phone call - no matter what the method, let's all push ourselves to be more involved in our children's school lives!

Have a wonderful Friday and a fantastic weekend!

I hope all our students have gotten an excellent start to the 2nd semester of school.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

POST #94 - Hey, Hey.....Juniors, it's your turn!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

First and foremost, our current juniors need to realize that this upcoming semester, the spring semester, will be the last semester that grades will be shown on the transcript for colleges to see….so this spring semester is most important. I cannot express this fact enough!! It needs to be a rigorous semester and each junior needs to finish strong....that means all A's if possible!!

  • It is important to be enrolled in the highest level courses possible.

  • It is important to make the highest grades possible in each of the courses enrolled.

  • It is important to continue to have a positive effect on one’s GPA, weighted and unweighted, as well as one’s class rank.

  • It is important to score one’s very best on the SAT and ACT, scheduling a test for May and/or June is important.

  • It is important to take on leadership roles in sports, clubs, and community volunteer programs.

  • It is important to make connections at colleges - in the admission office (most colleges are currently holding individual Zoom, GoogleMeet, or FaceTime calls; and for those who are seeking to play a college sport, you need to make contact with coaches!!

Second, juniors need to realize that all of the above elements can play a vital role in their acceptance to any and all colleges, particularly the high profile colleges and universities. Make certain you are doing all you can to improve on the weaknesses in your transcript and/or resume!

Have a great Thursday; and because I love snow so much, I am so hoping that I see some snow this winter!!! Sorry, not sorry to all those who don’t love snow!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

POST #93 - Big News to Share!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

I know I promised that we would be talking about the things our juniors should be doing as first semester ends and second semester begins. But, I need to back track on that promise - we will move that discussion to tomorrow.

Today, I have big news to share.

The College Board announced yesterday, January 19th that they would no longer administer the College Board Subject Tests. This news is huge. Many students take the subject tests (at least three tests) for admission to some colleges who required them. With the COVID, I could see this coming, but I thought it would be a gradual ending of the at the end of this academic school year in June. But according to an article, College Board Ends SAT Subject Tests Program, by Adam Ingersoll on the, in addition to the Subject Tests, “the SAT essay will be eliminated, too.”

The article went on to say that the College Board plans to focus on the AP Program by “creating more AP programs, sell more AP exams, and perhaps even encourage colleges to think at AP scores as de facto college admissions measurements.” A sign of the times when only about 10% of high school seniors who take the Subject Tests in comparison to the higher percentage (25%) of high school students who take the AP tests.

The article even went on to state that “there will not be any future U.S. administrations of the Subject Tests. Students can work with College Board to change the Subject Test registration to an SAT registration or receive a refund.” Now that is what I call immediately. So if you have a student registered to take a College Board Subject Test, then you need to contact them to change the registration to an SAT registration or to get a refund.

Now, we wait for colleges to react to this information, particularly the deletion of the Subject Tests. Some colleges this year have asked their students applying to their school to take the Subject Tests. Now, these colleges have to adjust their admission requirements.

The SAT Essay will be available to students through the June 2021 test. For years, I have told my students not to worry about taking the Essay because most colleges have not been using it as part of the admission process. They are also saying that “ the Essay may survive beyond June for state-funded School Day testing.” In other words, some states, not North Carolina as we have adopted the use of the ACT as a state-funded School Day test, may keep the Essay as part of their SAT testing process.

Now, all this SAT/College Board information makes us question….What will the ACT do about the essay portion of their testing. For now and until further word, the Essay remains a part of the ACT. So on the last Tuesday in February, all North Carolina juniors will be administered the ACT with the Essay section - yes juniors will take this essay. However, all other times a student registers for the ACT, the Essay section is optional, and my advice is to opt not to take the essay.

Like I said, this news today has been huge - spread the word. Tomorrow, back to advising our juniors on what they should be doing at this time of year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

POST #93 - Sophomores - What's next for you?


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

A few posts ago, I suggested several things Freshmen should be doing at this time of the year. Now, it is time to do the same for our 10th graders.

As sophomores in high school, a major concern at mid-year should most definitely be the courses you are taking – are you challenging yourself at the highest level possible? If you are, then I congratulate you; if you aren’t, then you need to do something about it! What do you do to strengthen your course load?

  1. Go talk (Call or email) with your school counselor or a trusted teacher to get his/her take on your course load. Do they think you are challenging yourself enough

  2. With the counselor’s and/or teacher’s advice, along with your parents’ support, talk with your counselor about making a change to this upcoming semester - making your schedule more rigorous.

  3. If this spring semester cannot be changed, don’t let it get you down; instead, you should begin to plan your junior and senior years showing how you can put more rigor into your course load! Colleges look for growth in your schedule, in your grades, and in your extracurricular activities.

  4. Most importantly, don’t settle – be an advocate for yourself! If you know you can do more difficult work at a higher level, then by all means, seek out the support from trusted individuals who will assist you in reaching your goals!

Please, sophomores evaluate where you are at by looking at the colleges you might like to attend – look closely at the coursework needed for admission acceptance, look closely at the average grade point average, unweighted and weighted, for acceptance, as well as desired class rank and SAT scores. It is time to step up and do the research - know if what you are doing in your class schedule, your grades, your overall activities is what the colleges you wish to apply to enough! In other words, do your homework and make plans to meet and exceed your dream schools’ average requirements!

Have a great January Tuesday!!! Be prepared for 2nd semester. Tomorrow what should our juniors be doing at this time of year?

Monday, January 18, 2021

POST #92 - MLK Day


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

On Friday, I talked about reflection as our best form of a teacher. I enjoy reflecting and learning from my mistakes and my triumphs. On this day that we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, an individual who encouraged us to learn from our past, let us celebrate his memory with a day of reflection.

Look back into this past year on the good and the bad and really think about how we could have done things even better even though our good things were really good, and then let us rehash the bad on how we could most definitely improve.

For example, in a year of unknowns in 2020, I often let too many days pass me by lacking the motivation to be successful at something that day. I often thought….oh, I can just get that important thing be done tomorrow or the next day. As I reflect on this procrastination I allowed myself to participate in for 2020, I am vowing not to allow myself to practice such a habit in 2021, even though we are still living in the COVID19 experience.

My new motto is “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day!” This statement is not a resolution; it is a realization as I reflect on a year that I can do better. I encourage our students, teachers, parents…..actually, any blog reader to reflect as someone so wise as Dr. Martin Luther King encouraged us to do. Let us all learn from our past so that we can be a better self…..a better friend….a better person!

Thank you for reading the blog. Have a blessed day of reflection….of celebrating MLK.

Tomorrow, we continue our talk speaking to our sophomores and what they should be doing at this time of the year.

Friday, January 15, 2021

POST #91 - Spending time in Reflection today


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

With more years behind me rather than in front of me, I have learned that reflection is my best teacher. If we learn nothing else today, let it be that we learn to reflect on our past experiences evaluating the good and the bad and how we can make the good....better and the bad.....good! Life is a process of learning experiences and never accepting that we have done our best means that we are constantly improving! That is the challenge that I live by daily!

Consequently, before our students and teachers begin 2nd semester of the 2020-2021 school year, it is important that we reflect upon the 1st semester. What did we do well and yet how can we improve even more? What did we perform poorly on and how do we go about doing better in each of these areas?

2nd semester is our 2nd chance for this school year.....

For the students as well as the teachers, on the first day of the 2nd semester, it is like the first day of school in August. It is a new beginning with new teachers and new subjects and new classmates (yes, remotely but still new). If things went south in the first semester, this is an opportunity for both students and teachers to do things differently. This time of year is where we practice our new and improved focus and advocacy as discussed in previous new year blog posts.

As a student, make certain all items from first semester are completed which includes work owed to teachers and/or attendance issues. Don’t allow this new semester to begin without first making plans to tie up all loose ends from the first semester. It is the student’s responsibility to resolve any undone issue. No one likes things hanging over his/her head, so I implore you to resolve it now! Begin this 2nd semester with a renewed focus on personal achievement and seek to better yourself with knowledge. Use the resources provided for you at your school such as your teachers, computers, tutors, administration, and the list goes on and on.

As for issues with college, all students who have been deferred concerning their admissions acceptance need to send all colleges in question a current semester-ending new transcript that clearly lists all first semester coursework with completed grades, new GPA, new Class Rank, and any new SAT or ACT scores. Most high schools try very hard to have all this work completed for seniors by the end of the first week of February. If your child is one of those students who needs to send this info, it is imperative that he/she or you, the parent, communicates this need to his/her school counselor. Early notification to the school counselor affords him/her a head start on the process.

See you Monday in blog land! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

POST #90 - Okay, 9th graders/Freshmen what should you be doing?


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Welcome to the Thursday blog post!

Today, we are all about the 9th graders or freshmen in our school system. At this time, where first semester is about to end and second semester will soon be starting, what should our freshmen be doing to enhance their options upon graduation from high school?

  1. Freshmen should be taking the most challenging courses possible. If they feel they are not being challenged, then they need to talk with their school counselor or a teacher as well as their parents about putting together a course schedule that will allow them to feel the challenge they seek.

  2. Once you have talked to your parents, a school counselor and/or a teacher and you have decided that you most definitely need to be in more challenging courses, then you need to advocate for yourself by asking to take a more challenging course load. If you cannot do so for the spring semester, then seek to do so for your sophomore year and the following two years.

  3. If you did not make a four year plan as you entered high school, then there is no time like the present. Sit down with your parents and/or your school counselor and develop your coursework plan for your remaining years in high school. It is imperative that you research your course offerings, and the Chatham County High Schools have tons of courses to offer, so that you maximize all your possibilities now - plan wisely for your future classes because your future options depend on a well planned high school course selection!!

  4. Don’t sit back and say no one will help me. It is your responsibility to ask for help. Guidance comes to those who seek it! Be proactive in planning your future!!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at the above email address!

Have a great Thursday - stay warm and enjoy this nice weather!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

POST #89 - More info for 8th graders....


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

As an 8th grader, it is so important for you to begin to look at all the courses offered at the high school you will attend. Look closely at prerequisites, courses that must be taken prior to another course, because it will help in the planning process. For example, one does not sign up for Spanish II without taking the prerequisite of Spanish I. Prerequisites are important to follow because they build the necessary foundation in a subject area in order to be successful at the next level. It is for this reason that students in the 8th grade need to complete a four year plan.

The four year plan is not to determine what semester or what period/block a student will take a course; however, it is to define the year specific courses the student will take on a yearly basis.

Will the student stick to the four year plan? Probably not, but plans are just that….a path or a course of action. Along the way, plans can change or be tweaked and should be if the goals of the student change.

Individuals who can be most helpful in this planning process are a student’s parents, his/her 8th grade teachers, his/her 8th grade school counselor, as well as the high school counselor. Additionally, other students who have been through the high school process can be most helpful in giving advice – what they liked about what they did with their coursework and, most importantly, what they wish they had done differently. It is wise if we learn from the students who precede the 8th grader. Talking to individuals who are currently in the same field of study the student wishes to enter can be most valuable in addressing the things they are glad they did and the things they wish they had done. It is important to take what each person offers a student as added information, and conform it into a plan that best suits the ability and goals of the student. In my opinion, a student should always seek challenge in his/her coursework. Just as working in the weight room always adding weights builds more muscle, so does taking more difficult and challenging courses builds the brain.

My advice: Seek someone out who can give you direction on developing the four year plan, and each year you register for courses revisit your four year plan – keep what still works and change the things that no longer meet your intended goals!! A four year plan is a continuous work in progress!

Have a wonderful hump day - Wednesday - on another note: remember seniors and current college students - if you have not completed the FAFSA, then you need to do so immediately! It opened back on October 1. If not completed, it is no time like the present! If you are struggling with it, ask someone questions.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

POST #88 - Speaking of advocacy - 8th graders how do you rate your ability to advocate for yourself?

Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Soon, too soon, your time is coming! For us parents, in our minds, it is way too soon to be thinking about your child's move from middle school to high school; however, for the middle schooler, I am certain each one has a great anticipation and excitement about this soon to be change, transition, matriculation, progression, or advancement!

Change: can mean adjustment, modification, amendment, or variation…..Moving from middle school to high school is a big change – adjustment – modification – amendment – and variation! Going from middle school to high school brings about new challenges, setting of new goals, new opportunities, new friendships, new rules, and a new structure. Are you ready? What are you doing to prepare for this change?

Transition: can mean change, move, conversion, or switch….Moving from middle school to high school is most definitely a transition that creates new changes and affords each individual the opportunity to switch into a new environment. When one looks at this transition with excitement, he/she allows for new adventures in discovery about himself/herself and knowledge!

Matriculation: can mean membership, association, belonging, admission….Moving from middle school to high school is all about membership and finding a place to belong, building relationships by association with old and new friends, and accepting the new atmosphere of high school. Get excited about high school. Look to find membership as a Bear, Jet, Charger, Octopi, or Bulldog - be it through athletics, drama, music, clubs, events, etc - find your passion and become an active member of your high school.

Progression: can mean growth, progress, development, and improvement…..Moving from middle school to high school is all about positive growth and improvement both mentally and socially which shows progress in development. Take challenging courses to grow - join clubs to get to know others in your high school. Are you ready to accept this challenge?

Advancement: can mean all of the above!! You advance by adjusting to all types of situations including the ones you will face in high school, and how well you accept change and the transition phase. How will you modify and amend who you are to see positive results? Your depth of matriculation will enhance your high school years and pay dividends to your future by not only creating a sense of belonging but a network of relationships that can most definitely advance your personal life as well as your education and career. Seek and you will achieve!

In essence, it is imperative to accept change as a positive, become a part of your high school by developing relationships with other students, teachers, and administrators, and grow seeking improvement increasing your advancement in all areas of your life!!

8th graders, in just a few short weeks, you will be looking at the high school curriculum deciding the courses you want to take as a 9th grader - please take this process seriously - seek advice and assistance from teachers, counselors, and most definitely your parents!!!

Parents, enjoy this process and work alongside your child helping them navigate this right of passage. Model advocacy to your child, so they will learn to ask questions, always learning is so important.

Have a wonderful Tuesday! More tomorrow! Remember to share the blog with others!

Monday, January 11, 2021

POST #87 – More Encouragement for Teaching Our Children to be an Advocate for Themselves!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

As I explained yesterday, in addition to teaching our children to be focused, it is imperative that we teach our children to advocate for themselves. One way to teach self-advocacy is to have your children practice the art of advocating starting at a very young age – some of my stories from yesterday further explained this process.

Another way to teach our children to be self-advocates is to model advocacy for oneself and for others. Honestly, I am terrible at advocating for myself, but I have made strides on improving in this area particularly since I started my own business where its success is based on my advocacy! If our children see us model self-advocacy in the proper way, then they are likely to mimic it in the appropriate way!

An example of a way in which a child in high school might advocate for him/herself is with course selection. Maybe, he/she did not take any honors courses as a 9th grader; but as he/she is registering for his/her 10th grade classes, he/she wants to take 3 specific honors courses such as Honors English III, Honors Chemistry, and Honors U. S. History. To advocate for him/herself, it is imperative to develop a list of things that can support the challenge….

1. The good grades made in previous courses in each subject area

2. The information that he/she has researched on college sites that support students taking honors level courses

3. The support of his/her parents is important

4. Explaining his/her work ethic and how his/her determination will help him/her to be successful and reach his/her goals

5. Expressing a genuine desire to be challenged!

Obviously, advocacy takes work, but it is most rewarding! Counselors, administrators, teachers simply want their students to be successful, so they often base their decisions to guide students on what they have seen of the student in class. If they constantly see lack of interest, just getting by with grades, lack of confidence, then of course, they might encourage lower level coursework. If students know they can achieve in more rigorous courses, then advocate for yourself and then show that you can be successful in those courses by accomplishing good grades.

Today, tomorrow, and everyday, I am advocating for our students to push themselves to a higher level. Some can do it quickly, where others might take a slower path, and that is okay, just try something new and more challenging each and every day.

Friday, January 8, 2021

POST #86 – More about our children


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Enjoy your remote learning/snow day! Nobody loves snow more than I do - I am hoping for a few inches!

For the past two posts, I have spent time talking about the focused child and making this year the Year of the Focused Child! In addition to parents teaching their children to be focused, I feel strongly that we need to teach our children to be an advocate for themselves.

In looking back on my own elementary, middle, and high school years, I know I was too passive and failed horrifically at advocating for myself. Consequently, as I began to parent school aged children, I most definitely wanted to teach them to be their own cheerleader and to advocate for themselves.

For example, my children started playing sports in the recreational leagues of Sanford at the early age of 4; and I made it point from the beginning to teach my children that it was their responsibility to talk with their coach if there was an issue that bothered them. I thought I was doing really well until one day at my daughter Morgan’s soccer practice she came running over to me. It was just after I saw her talking to her coach. She was in tears. I said, “Goodness Morgan what is the problem?” She said, “I have to go to the bathroom, and I took the issue to the coach and he said that he didn’t do bathrooms to go to my mother!” I said, “Okay?” She said through her tears, “But momma, you said that when I was on the field the coach was in charge and you expected me to talk to only him…..he said he didn’t do bathrooms, and he sent me to you and you aren’t in charge!” Hahahahahah! – the joke was on me!

Okay, as “Ricky Rircardo of the TV show I Love Lucy would say…..You got some splaining to do!” And I did!

Even though this event occurred, I did not back off – I just kept ”splaining” things to my children! Working at the same high school my children attended when they entered high school, I never once went to talk to a teacher or a coach about any issue; it was Spencer’s and Morgan’s job to do so….. just as they had done throughout elementary and middle school. I feel strongly that if we teach our children to advocate for themselves by practicing throughout their lives, I feel they will be experts at advocating for themselves as they become adults. Additionally, I am hopeful that they will become strong advocates for others as well. I now watch them as adults, and they are good at advocating for themselves and others too.

More on teaching our children to be strong advocates for themselves next week!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

POST #85 – Speaking of the Focused Child! - continued from yesterday’s post!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

To continue with yesterday’s writing….

Please don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud that both of my children are teachers – specifically English teachers – because that too is how I began. Personally, to me, teaching is the grassroots to all professions, so yes, this mom is proud! I am proud that my children are happy and content in doing something they genuinely love and feel a strong commitment to as a career, so I too, am content, but as I watch my grandchildren start their process of growth – I question….could I have done things differently that might have afforded my two children other options with more choices….and the answer is a definite….YES!

The story I most remember about my children and knowing that the art of teaching was really what they saw most and then modeled most was this:

When both, Spencer and Morgan, were very small until they were old enough to stay at home alone (13 years old), they went to school with me during the summers as I volunteered my time to work on building the master schedule for the coming year and developing each student’s class schedule. Even though this was volunteer time, it was as if I was going to a job because the project each summer was extremely demanding, so most summer days I was at school from 8am to 8pm and many days even later than that. I set up a classroom next to my office where they could play; and even with all the toys we brought from home, each day I would inevitably hear them begin to teach one another – each with his or her own style. Spencer was the quiet yet strict teacher; and Morgan was the demanding and creative teacher. Many times, I could hear myself in both as they taught lessons in Math, English, Reading, Science, and Social Studies; and I could hear them also respectfully mimicking their Sunday School Teachers, PreSchool Teachers, and as time evolved their Elementary Teachers. Now, that they are teachers, I think they have taken bits and pieces from lots of teachers they have respected over the years all the way through college to formulate who they are as a teacher now!

My main point is: This environment is really all they knew on a regular basis. From August to June, they were with me before school and after school as I worked at school; and then during all summers, they basically lived with me at school! In reality, what else did they know? Sure, they were smart children and learned about other careers and various other jobs, but they lived my career every single day. What if I had been a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, a nurse, a computer programmer, a CEO, an automobile mechanic….could they have gone in other directions? Children model what they know in actions, words, and YES….in careers – my own children are most definitely proof of such a theory!

Granted, it is not a bad thing, but maybe other options along the way might have shown each child more other opportunities. And that is what I want for your children; learn from my mistakes. Create options for your children by showing them the world - talk about how a mailman becomes a mailman; how a nurse becomes a nurse; how a farmer becomes a farmer; how a hairstylist becomes a hairstylist; how an accountant becomes an accountant; how a neuromarketer becomes a neuromarketer; how a physician assistant becomes a physician assistant; how a plumber becomes a plumber, or an electrician becomes an electrician, or a forest ranger becomes a forest ranger, or how one creates software, or how one invents the machinery that makes products, or how a teacher teaches. The list could go on and on.

In other words, show your children the world and allow them to find the “what” they want to do for a lifetime.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

POST #84 – The Focused Child!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Thanks goodness the setup of the blog is back to normal, and I did absolutely nothing to make it look normal again! Sorry about yesterday's odd setup!

It is amazing how children can be born of the same two parents yet be so different in their mannerisms, actions, and disposition. Even though both of my children ended up first becoming high school English teachers, they both went about arriving at this career choice quite differently with very different paths. As I shared in other posts this past fall, I often wonder if I opened enough doors or opportunities for them to experience more things – did I have them look beyond the everyday environment to really seek what the world could offer them in the job world.

In my opinion, children focus early on in life on areas that they see their parents and others around them doing, so as parents it is our responsibility to attempt to open new avenues of possibilities for our children to consider. In retrospect, I wish I had done more of that sort of exploration with my own two children. Instead, my children were primarily exposed (95% exposed) to the world of education, so it is no wonder they both decided to enter the teaching profession.

Sure, I took them to science museums and historical places, and we visited the zoo on numerous occasions, and other cities, such as New York, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Tampa, and of course, through our volleyball, football, softball, and baseball excursions, we were everywhere, but I wonder, when in these places, did I speak of the various careers? For example, how much talk did I do in New York about Wall Street and all the opportunities this one city offers; or when at the zoo, did I talk about all the different individuals needed to run a zoo such as veterinarians, zoo keepers, environmentalists, designers, marketing experts, vet techs, exotic animal handlers, and so on and so forth. Honestly, I don’t think I did, and I really wish I had done so. You know, I did a great job introducing my children to colleges. Every town or location we visited, we took the time to tour a college or colleges so I did a lot of thinking about the next step after high school but very little about the next step after college. In hindsight, I should have done more of the latter.

My point is as advice to the parents of children still in school – be it elementary school, middle school, or high school – take every opportunity to open doors for your children. Yes, of course, visit colleges, but take it to the next level by talking to them about the jobs available on a college campus, or at the zoo, or at a museum, or at a historical site, or as you pass by an Apple store or a local bank or company….. share with them the actual jobs that make up that entity. If you don’t know, explore with them on the Internet the jobs that are available at SAS Institute, or the American Cancer Society, or CAT. As with college, it is truly all about getting our children to be focused after they have learned all that they can about all that is available to them – and in reality – I believe for every child ….. the sky is the limit!

Please don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud that both of my children are teachers – specifically English teachers – because that too is how I began (My son is also a minister). Personally, to me, teaching is the grassroots to all professions, so yes, this mom is proud! I am proud that my children are happy and content in doing something they genuinely love and feel a strong commitment to as a career, so I too, am content, but as I watch my grandchildren (four currently) start their process of growth – I question….could I have done things differently that might have afforded each child other options with more choices….and the answer is a definite….YES! Maybe, I was too focused on my career that I failed to see that I created tunnel vision for my two very focused children!! I will explain more tomorrow!

In essence, I am looking for folks to see that we need to show our children options….lots of options so they can decide where their journey will take them.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

POST #83 - New Year's Resolution

  • Email:

    Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

    For your New Year’s Resolution, I hope it will be to always be in the know about the ins and outs of the career and college process by reading this blog and emailing me your thoughts and questions. I believe resolutions are of the utmost importance because each one forces an individual to reflect and acknowledge elements they need to improve on or learn more about.

    My resolution to you is to provide you and your family with as much information as possible about all aspects of the career and college process. And, in addition, the things I do not know, I am promising to seek out the best answers possible from my pool of individuals for whom I depend on for support as they do with me. According to the famed author, J. K. Rowling, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” By working together, we can learn from each other and our children can prosper from our knowledge.

  • For all the Chatham County students out there who are current seniors, I am certain 2021 is going to be an excellent year for you. When I speak with college admission staff across the state and nationally, I am always pleased to hear from them the excellent name the high schools of Chatham County represents to them. As you continue to make plans to go to college or to work next Fall 2021, I implore you to represent Chatham County with great pride and to work diligently at whatever you choose to do!

    For all the Chatham County students out there who are current juniors, I am certain 2021 holds great potential for you! End your current semester with gusto and enter the 2nd semester with the desire to be successful. Now is the time to begin your college process as you begin to attend online college open houses and tour various colleges online. Cross our fingers that in late March the Raleigh area will hold a huge College Fair that will be open for all to attend as long as we are in the clear for COVID. I will be sharing the date and location soon if it does indeed happen.

    Again, Happy New Year!! Make this your best year yet!!

  • I do not know why the copy is in bullet format - I did not do this, and I cannot figure out how to fix it! ugh! Sorry, I am not tech savvy!

Monday, January 4, 2021

POST #82 – For the High Schoolers, A New Semester Begins Soon!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

First and foremost - Happy New Year! Happy 2021!!

Well, we start a new semester soon - mid January. For the students as well as the teachers, on the first day of the 2nd semester, it is like the first day of school in August except it is in January. It is a new beginning with new teachers and new subjects and new classmates. If things went south in the first semester, this new beginning is an opportunity for both students and teachers to do things differently. This moment is where we practice our new and improved focus and advocacy.

As a student, make certain all items from first semester are completed which includes work owed to teachers and/or attendance issues. Don’t allow this new semester to begin without first making plans to tie up all loose ends from the first semester. It is the student’s responsibility to resolve any undone issue. No one likes things hanging over his/her head, so I implore you to resolve it now! You have about two weeks to get any issues resolved.

As for issues with college, all students who have been deferred concerning their admissions acceptance need to send all colleges in question a current semester-ending new transcript that clearly lists all first semester coursework with completed grades, new GPA, new Class Rank, and any new SAT or ACT scores. Most high schools try very hard to have all this work completed for seniors by the end of the first week of February.

If your child is one of those students who needs to send this info, it is imperative that he/she or you, the parent, communicates this need to his/her school counselor as soon as possible. Early notification to the school counselor affords her a head start on the process.

Happy Monday - Happy first Monday in the new year - 2021!!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

POST #81 – 2020 is in the books! On to 2021!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

For today, Thursday, the final day of the 2020 year, I am thankful for a year well lived, particularly sharing information with all my blog followers and thankful for the folks at Chatham County Schools for allowing me to do so. As we leave 2020 in the past, and we greet 2021 with hope and thankfulness let us focus our time on our families, our friends, and the people we newly meet in this new year.

To grow the blog, I need for all my followers to tell 10 people to log on to the blog as we enter this new year. I am desperately trying to reach over 1,000 hits from different URLs. In other words, today, I need a total of 71 new individuals from new computer addresses to log on to the blog site…..Can you help me? I bet you can. Call five people anywhere, not just from Chatham County, and ask them to log on to the Chatham County Website and log on to the Beyond the Classroom icon. Once you have called five people, ask them to call five people and so on and so on – not only will we get career and college wise together, but you will be making a huge effort to help me reach my goal of 1,000 by year’s end!

In reflection, 2020 has been a year to remember - the bad and the good. For me, the good started in February when my whole family went to Disney for eight days. In September, I began writing the blog. And in November, I learned I was going to be a grandmother yet for a 5th time. Looking past all the bad of the pandemic, I choose to focus on the good of 2020. All in all, it has been a most eventful year, and a most joyous year for me.

As you close the 2020 year out, take time to reflect on your accomplishments. Enjoy your day with family and friends and find a way to relish in the moment. My New Year’s Eve day will be spent with my family and New Year’s Day will be spent thankful.

As it goes – I will be blogging with you next on Monday, January 4, 2021!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

POST #80 - Some Information about me

I have had several folks ask questions of who I am, and where does my knowledge come from that I present on the blog. I shared a bit of information in the very first blog post on September 8th, but there is more that might be helpful for people to know about me.

I am a native of Chatham County, and I spent 28 of my 33 year career in Chatham County as a school counselor. Prior to entering the counseling field, I taught Language Arts and Social Studies for 7th and 8th grades at Chatham Middle School for two years and then moved to Northwood High School, my alma mater, for one year. At Northwood, I taught 9th and 10th grades English and social studies. During my first three years of teaching, I worked part time on my graduate degree at North Carolina State University completing my Master's of Education in Counseling in 1985. Not only was NCSU the university for my graduate studies, but it also was the place of my undergraduate work in English and history, graduating in 1982.

Once I completed my graduate degree and my first three years of teaching, I found my true home at Chatham Central High School, where I served as school counselor from 1985 to 2009. Being the only school counselor in a school of 300 to 500 students, I learned all aspects of a productive counseling program and ways I could support my students, parents, faculty, staff, and administration.

After leaving Chatham Central and Chatham County in 2009, I worked as the Department Chair of the Lee County High School Counseling office until my retirement in 2013. In Lee County, I served over 1500 students daily. I enjoyed working with the folks of Lee County; it became a second home for me.

Upon my retirement, I founded my small business Success+/College Planning Made Easy!, where I work individually with students from all across North Carolina, the United States, and internationally. I have written educational blogs for other school systems, so I feel blessed to be returning to my original workplace home of Chatham County to write this blog - Beyond The Classroom. I want this blog to be an informative place, where students, parents, staff, and administration discover information and facts to enhance their beyond the classroom experiences with college, career, and more.

Have a blessed day and tomorrow is New Year’s Eve!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

POST #79 - More on Reflection…..


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Yesterday’s blog post was about reflection; and as I continued to reflect on this past year more good flooded my thoughts than bad. I have witnessed families spend so much more time together, talk with one another, eat together at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the year of 2020, families have worked together through the good and the bad of what this year has given us. We have been required to help each other more than any time I have ever known in my life time. We have worked together to quickly learn how to communicate with others through FaceTime (for us older folks not accustomed to using it), GoogleMeet, Zoom, as well as other areas more associated with education.

Our teachers have spent hours upon hours devising creative ways to instruct their students and to keep them involved and motivated. Many students have discovered that they can advocate for themselves and others and that their voice is important and needs to be heard. We all have discovered that we are stronger than we ever imagined. I am so thankful for the efforts of all educators from administrators to teachers to cafeteria workers to teacher assistants and school secretaries to our custodians. Everyone has made an impact on helping push forward in some of the most difficult times we have ever experienced. I praise our students and our parents too; they have developed plans to complete their jobs either at home or in some social distant manner and still they have made it all work while managing their home life as well.

At this point in the pandemic, we are all starving for face-to-face meetings with our friends and family. The holidays - from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day - have been difficult to celebrate without our traditional gatherings, but many have made efforts to simplify the celebrations. I heard on the news that holiday buying was up more than 3% with the majority of purchases being made online. It is good to hear that people are making such efforts. Keep in mind that many folks are suffering and need our help - if you can….find a way to give - give to food banks, shelters, the Salvation Army, or any program that is assisting those in need.

Thank you for reading the blog. Please feel free to email me with comments.

Two more days in the year 2020!

Monday, December 28, 2020

POST # 78 - Time for reflection…


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

As we enter the last week of 2020, it is time to reflect on the good and the bad of this past year. I encourage folks to always reflect on the bad first so that those things are managed first, ending the year with reflection on all the good with the hopes that the good will carry over to the new year - 2021.

Some of the things that I first thought to be bad have instead developed into good. For example, I stopped doing so much grocery shopping, and I learned to stretch my visits to two weeks instead of every week. I also learned to order online, something I had never even considered in the past. With so much less travel, since March of this year, I have bought gas only 5 times, where I once bought gas twice a week. Yes, I miss getting out and about, but I have learned to focus my time elsewhere. Here with the blog, creating scrapbooks for my children, keeping grandchildren, my daily focus has been redirected and in a very good way.

In the past, as I reflect on the months since COVID started in March, I often used my time in meaningless ways and now I am so much more intentional with my time. As my future evolves into reality, I want to continue to manage my time with this new found understanding no matter how things change. I do see us coming into better times and leaving COVID in the past sometime in 2021; but when that will happen, I am not certain. To my liking, sooner would be far better than later. Continue to reflect on the bad and the good - trying to correct the bad and further developing the good in your life. Don’t allow yourself or your family and friends to get caught up in the bad. Keep seeking solutions and readjusting the little things so the large things will seem far less overwhelming. Keep in mind, for your children, reach out to school officials who are ready and able to help you or direct you in finding the right individual who can help you.

Have a nice Monday - the last Monday in 2020.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

POST #77 - It is time for our students and families to turn the screens off and enjoy each other.


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Since our students have been schooling so much by way of computers, I think it is time they close their computer, put down their phones, and any other technology too - it is time that they just do kid things - play outside on a nice day, watch a movie with the family, do some arts and crafts, bake, read, sit and have a simple conversation with mom and dad - in other words, take a step away from studying. Even more importantly, step away from the computer screen.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Please be safe. Remember, I won’t be posting a blog post tomorrow, but will return next Monday, December 28 through to Thursday, December 31, then taking Friday, January 1 - New Year’s Day - off from posting again. We will start the new year on Monday, January 4, 2021. Wow, that seems so odd to be typing 2021, but I had better get accustomed to it.

Thanks so much for reading the blog; please continue to read and to also share that you are reading it, encouraging others to join our readership.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

POST #76 - Calling all Middle and High School Students - things to think about as the new year begins…


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

The most outstanding change I have noticed this year in college and scholarship applications as well as with summer enrichment applications is that they are specifically asking: “How has COVID-19 impacted the student and their family? or What did the student do with his/her time in the pandemic?”

I see these questions sticking around for the next year or two - so students need to make certain they have items of value to respond to such questions. What are some examples to consider:

  1. The student started working at a paying job.

  2. The student began to volunteer at an animal shelter or a food drive.

  3. The student attended a summer camp or two on career interests or in leadership.

  4. The student helped to take care of a elderly grandparent.

  5. The student started taking college courses during the summer.

Find something that gets you away from the computer. Find something that allows you to explore something new and allows you to “step outside your comfort zone.”

There is no time like the present, so get busy!

Have a great Wednesday! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Wow times really does fly by so quickly!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

POST #75 - What can a senior do over the holidays to help with the college process?


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

What are your plans over the holiday break? Well, I am guessing that most of you are taking a complete break from computer screens of any kind - and if you haven’t planned to do so, please try to at least cut back on your screen time. Get outside! Enjoy your family! Read a good book! Watch some sappy Christmas movies on Lifetime or Hallmark! OR start looking more deeply into scholarships.

How do you do the scholarship search?

My advice to all current seniors is to set up an account on It is an awesome scholarship search engine. If scholarship search can be made easy, it is made easiest by Once an account is made, the student will need to take a survey on the site, and then the parents need to take a survey.

Once all of this info is completed, the student will begin to receive emails about scholarship - scholarships that can be used as any college and scholarships from specific colleges the student has listed in his/her survey, as well as competition type of scholarships

Over the holidays, get this process started on; it will be your easiest way to journey through the scholarship process.

Thanks so much for reading the blog. Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, December 21, 2020

POST #74 - Twas the few days before Christmas and everything is busy!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

As I reflect upon these last few months September (when the blog started) to now, wow - what a 4 months! Chatham County Schools continues to work diligently, always putting our children in the forefront of each and every decision. The success of our students is most important to the Chatham County Schools Administration, teachers, and staff. As we prepare to roll over into 2021 (less than two weeks away), let us continue to work together to find new ways to educate our students using new and improved forms of technology and also using such forums as this blog. It is the sole purpose of this blog to help our parents and students in this journey of career and college planning. I can only do this if you send in your questions - I want this blog to be your blog and to have it answer your questions. To all those who read and have already sent in their questions, thank you! I continue to ask that you share the blog with family, friends, fellow professionals, acquaintances, and people far and near.

As the new year draws near, take time to reflect on the good and the bad of this 2020 year. This year requires us to evaluate and reevaluate it continuously - It is a strange year, but one that has forced us to focus on our family; and for this unique aspect, I am genuinely thankful and blessed. But I ask myself: Could you have done things differently? My answer is yes. I feel I can always do better. I tell my students all of the time: Never think you have done your best because if you do, then you have lost your opportunity to improve. I like to consider myself a work in progress at all times.

As I reflect on the past four months in writing the blog, I know that much information has been shared, but yet I want to do more to help you in the career and college journey. Let me know your thoughts.

Have a wonderful Monday - and a blessed week. Please stay safe in your holiday travels and celebrations!

The blog will be published Monday through Thursday this week and next week, as Friday of this week is Christmas and next Friday is New Year’s Day!

Friday, December 18, 2020

POST #73 - Blog Appreciation and Blast!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Folks - thanks so much for reading the blog post each and every day, and thanks for telling others about it too. I really appreciate you tuning into each post and hopefully using its info to help you or someone in your family or maybe a friend or an acquaintance. It is always so much fun writing each post and sharing info with you. It is my pleasure to help each person with the career and college process. It can be an overwhelming process, so I take it upon myself to help with each and every issue that might arise. Remember, I ask that you email me with your questions, and I will gladly respond.

As this year draws to a quick end and as a new year soon begins, I ask that you share the blog with others and that you try to encourage others to read it and share it with family and friends. Remember we are in this college application process together so that we can become wiser and better equipped to handle each and every situation. Because I am always looking to increase the blog's readership, I ask that you make it a point to tell at least 10 people about the blog before the new year begins. Let’s tack on a few more people. Keep in mind you are more than welcome to email me with questions and concerns. I appreciate all those who have contacted me during this fall application process, but it doesn’t end here. We have so much more to talk about and discuss.

Have a wonderful Friday and get ready for Christmas 2020!! Wow! I can hardly believe it is about to be here!! Just think, we have been in full pandemic mode for 10 months; it often seems like a lot longer than 10 months.

Enjoy your weekend! See you Monday!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

POST #72 - More about interviews - the new way of interviews - FaceTime, Zoom, GoogleMeet


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Most colleges/universities and scholarship foundations are using technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, and GoogleMeet to conduct first round interviews. As a matter of fact, many colleges/universities and scholarship foundations had started using these platforms to conduct interviews long before COVID-19 occurred, so these organizations are extremely familiar with such a process.

Fortunately, these platforms are also very familiar to our students. However, I do advise my students to take such an interview seriously. In other words, students should still dress like it is an in-person interview. Secondly, find a nice uncluttered space in the house where you can interview. You want the focus to be on you - not the bookshelf behind you, not the kitchen sink, not your bedroom. You want a clean, uncluttered space to conduct your interview. Thirdly, you should figure the best way to set up your computer. I encourage students to use some books to set the computer up so you are eye level instead of on the table where you are looking down - again….you need to check this out prior to the day of the interview. Finally, treat the online interview just like all the things I have mentioned in the last ten blog posts.

Please take the time to read the last 10 blog posts if you are ever asked to interview.

Have a wonderful Thursday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

POST #71 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#10 Always follow-up after your interview!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Once the interview is over, please make certain to follow up with a hand-written note or an email to the interviewer(s) - which means you must get an address or an email address so that you can send this note.

What do you say in the note?....

Make it short and to the point - most importantly, thank him/her for their time and for the opportunity to be a part of the process. Make certain to put something in the note that reminds them specifically of your interview - rehash a moment or a unique discussion so they know exactly who the note is coming from - then there is no question who has written the note.

Be gracious and appreciative! Be humble….be confident! Be you!!

Also, make certain to check your email every day for emails from colleges and scholarship groups. This manner is their best way to communicate with you, and you don't want to miss any message from them.

Happy Wednesday - only a couple of weeks left in 2020 - what a year!!

Most years, I am sad to see the year come to an end….not this year. We are all ready to move forward into 2021.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

POST #70 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#9 Don't talk about what they already can read on your transcript and application unless they specifically ask such a question!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

You have a huge job as the interviewee to keep them wanting more - more about who you are. If you are asked a specific question about your application, then it is important to answer the question, but it is even more important that you take the question to a level beyond your application by giving another example of what you spoke about in your application. By answering your questions in this manner, you allow the interviewers to know even more about who you are and what you are about.

How do you do this?

Say they ask - Your role as captain of the Football team involved what leadership skills:

Answer: Serving as a 2 year captain of the varsity football team has kept me on my toes because my team is made up of so many different personalities, and it is my job to help us to work as a well-oiled machine on the football field as well as off the field. To me, one of my best leadership skills is my ability to communicate and in so doing allowing everyone to have a voice in how we go about achieving our goals. For example, when we meet as a team to discuss last week's game, instead of telling each team member how they could have played better, I always ask what do you think you could have done better in the game. I always start with myself and then we roll from that point on in our discussion. This leadership skill has played into all aspects of my life even in communicating with my younger brother to my class discussions to my leadership on the student council. My leadership on the football team has taught me to be a good role model and to find ways to allow others to practice their leadership too.

Another leadership skill....etc. etc!

Get the picture?

Always take your answer to the next level!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 14, 2020

POST #69 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#8 Prepare questions and comments for the end of the interview - End Strong!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Happy Monday!!

First impressions and last impressions are most important in an interview! People remember most a person's introduction and a person's ending remarks, so it is important to start strong and end even stronger. So, how does one start strong and end strong?

To start strong, be you! Don’t try to be someone you are not. Greet each interviewer with a nice firm handshake unless you are instructed otherwise. Say hello. Be prepared for a question such as Tell us about yourself, which is a very open ended question. What would you say?

At the end of 99.9% of all interviews, no matter the type - college, scholarship, job related, the interviewer(s) always end by saying: "We have about 5 minutes remaining; do you have any questions or comments?" Again, a very open ended type of question...don’t say….”No, I don’t.”

This question by the interviewer or interviewing team is an open-ended opportunity to put your touch on the final part of the interview - and the key is to leave them wanting more!

Never, never, never answer this question with...."No, I think we have covered it!" This type of ending will leave them saying that you are not interested or that you just want to get out of the room! Here are some other options to consider ending your interview:

1. Have questions prepared to ask!

2. Finish a question that you feel you did not answer completely.

3. Tell them something about you that you feel you did not have the opportunity to do so in the interview.

4. Thank them for the opportunity to express who you are.

In other words, leave them wanting more!

Start strong…..End strong!!! I cannot say that enough! The introduction is important, but the ending of the interview is even more important!

If you are interviewing for college admissions, scholarships, or a job - be you! Be positive.

Have a wonderful Monday and enjoy your week. Blessings to all!

Friday, December 11, 2020

POST #68 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#7 Work on giving a story or an example with each question asked - 1 to 2 minutes in length!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Most students will enter an interview; and when each question is asked, they will simply answer the question - short - sweet - and to the point. On the contrary, it is so much more than is about knowing your application so well that you anticipate the questions and answer the question with a part of your application yet more - by adding an additional story that gives the interviewing committee more insight about who you are as a person.

The student should always be knowledgeable about what the interviewer seeks by knowing the type of student the university or scholarship foundation looks for as a future member of their campus or scholarship organization. Every question asked deserves a 2 minute answer or story or even more. A 20 minute interview for someone that is practiced is never long enough, but a 20 minute interview for someone who has failed to devote the time to practice then the interview will seem like a lifetime.

Interviewing is an art - seek help with this process. For my more than 40 years of work in the counseling field, I have worked with so many young people throughout this process with numerous successes. Yes, I assisted and helped them, but the students put in the work, the time, and the preparation and in doing so, they were very successful.

Happy Friday - enjoy your weekend….I am certain you more than deserve it!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

POST #67 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#6 Work on ways of showing your eagerness and enthusiasm!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Going for an interview with a college admission person or with a committee for a scholarship interview can be overwhelming to a high school senior. Practicing for this event can help the student relax and become more confident allowing the student to show his/her eagerness and enthusiasm. Now, let's not go overboard with both, but in moderation. Some students who are naturally reserved and quiet have to work at this particular aspect far more than others who have a talent for expressing themselves with an eagerness and some enthusiasm. And then there are those who are completely over confident and sound like it is way too much fun to toot their own horn. It is about moderation - humility. Practice is good for anyone; it is not a sign of weakness!

How do you know what type of person you are? Practice with individuals who will be honest with you about how you verbalize your answers to questions. Have them make note of your nonverbal communication - such as your eyes - are you looking with conviction to your interviewers or are you looking away. How are you sitting? Are you smiling? Does your nonverbal show confidence in who you are? Are you able to interject some humor in your conversation? Do you have to think about every answer for a long period of time or do you answer too quickly and need to organize your thoughts before speaking?

Again, it is all about practice!

Have a wonderful Thursday - be sure to take care of all the Christmas shopping!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

POST #66 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#5 Determine an outfit!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Ah yes, the clothes you wear are important! It does not have to be anything new or over the top - as a matter fact, I would advise against "over the top." First of all, when dressing for an interview, remember to be yourself. I personally like simple attire - the classic look.For a young man who owns a suit of black, grey, or navy blue - wear it with a nice crisp white shirt and a simple tie. For a young man who does not own a suit, wear a white button down shirt with a tie and nice slacks of navy or black or grey.

Of course, wear a belt. Wear appropriate shoes - stay away from tennis shoes - borrow someone's nice school if need be. If you don't own any of these things, then by all means find someone who will allow you to borrow the needed dress clothes. First impressions are important and you want the interviewers to feel that you feel that this interview is important to you as well and your presentation of self is an important factor.

For the female, wear a dark dress or a blue or black skirt with a simple top. If you have a pant suit or a dress suit, then wear it. If not, try to put something together with the help of some of your friends. Most importantly, for the ladies, please make certain your skirt or dress is to the knees when standing or below so that when you sit it will not come up too high. Also, know how to sit in a dress or a skirt - if you don't know - ask someone the proper way to sit in such attire. Wear flats if possible, because you do not know how much walking you will do or at least low heels - college campuses don’t always have parking located near the destination. High heels, if you are not accustomed to walking in them can be an accident waiting to happen. On a day as important as this, choose simple and keep your dress low key.

For the guys and gals….Above all, if you need a haircut, do so a week or two in advance so that you are accustomed to fixing it in a proper manner for the interview. Don’t try something new! Keep your hair out of your eyes. For girls, pull your hair back in some way that feels comfortable to you and that shows your smiling face. Don’t let your hair be a distraction to you or the interviewers.

Appearance is important for both the college interview and the scholarship interview. Dressing in a new outfit is not necessary, but finding one in your closet or with the help of friends means finding something that allows the student to radiate confidence and that will be an appealing outfit!!

Thanks for reading the blog today and all the other days too - please share it with others.

Have a wonderful Wednesday; and as Christmas quickly approaches, I wish everyone a blessed day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

POST #65 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview…

#4 Prepare for all types of questions!!!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

The meat of the interview is questions that students need to be prepared for - no matter the type of questions. For example the famous lead off questions is:

Tell me about yourself....

Wow! Now, that is an open-ended type of question that a student could take anywhere and can completely throw a student off if he/she isn't prepared for such a question.

Another type of question is....

What is your philosophy of life?


What's your take on a current event that you are currently following? And, why are you following this event so closely?


What is a book that you have read recently that wasn't assigned by a teacher? Why did you choose to read it and what have you learned from it?


What do you like or dislike about your high school? What have you done about the things that you dislike?


What are your strengths and weaknesses?

These are only a very few of the questions students should prepare for in an interview.

Google: interview questions for a college interview or for a scholarship interview.

Have a wonderful Tuesday - with Christmas break on the horizon please know that the blog continues each day during the break so please read and share!

Monday, December 7, 2020

POST #64 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#3 Prepare a Resume or Activity Sheet!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Today is December 7 - National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day - This day in the United States is observed annually to honor the 2,403 killed in the Pearl Harbor attack. I pay tribute to each of those individuals.

Prior to going to any type of interview, students need to prepare a high school resume or at least an activity sheet. Having a resume or activity sheet will give the interviewer something to work from that you, the interviewee, is most familiar with, allowing you to talk about your talents and areas of expertise. Going into an interview can be scary and intimidating so having a resume or activity sheet keeps things focused and with direction.

How do you develop a resume?

Google high school resume and you should come up with several templates to choose from that will be most appropriate for a college interview or a scholarship interview. Your resume should cover from 9th grade through to present and all activities in school and outside of school even employment.

The resume should only be one page - but can be front and back of a single page if need be.

Happy Monday! Have a blessed week and please stay safe!!

Tomorrow: More on this subject of the college interview or scholarship interview.

Friday, December 4, 2020

POST #63 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview...#2 Research the college/university or scholarship!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Number 2 on the list of things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview:

Research! Yes, as they say, knowledge is power. It is a confidence booster as well; but most importantly, knowledge in an interview shows deep interest in the school or the scholarship foundation. Having such knowledge immediately shows the individuals interviewing you that you are in it to win it. I am a firm believer that anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time - why not an interview.

Here are some ways to do research:

1. Visit the school and talk to people both students and professors as well as staff in the cafeteria or at the security office (might not be an option in Covid-19).

2. Study the Website extensively. Know as much as you can about the school's history or scholarship’s history and how it relates to you.

3. Call or visit alum of the school - ask them questions? What they liked and disliked?

4. Once you have researched the school - think of at least 5 to 10 things that explain why you have applied to this school and prepare solid answers as to why this school or scholarship foundation connects with who you are and who you want to be upon graduation.

5. Study your research and see if from various perspectives.

6. Connect your research to you!

Have a wonderful Friday! As the weekend approaches, if you are out and about, please do your errands safely - wash your hands, wear your mask, and wait six feet a part!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

POST #62 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview…

#1 Begin preparation early!!


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! That is what it is all about!

Begin preparing not procrastinate.

Perfect Practice makes Practice Perfect - and this gives one confidence to be successful in the real thing - the real interview! Most college Websites have a page devoted to tips for interviewing - read and practice these tips! Find someone who will practice with you, and who will give good, constructive criticism. Learn to take this criticism and to use it to help you constantly improve.

Print out directions to the interview. Know where to park. Have a phone number for the office available if needed.

Begin studying for the interview by rereading and understanding your application. Think of ways you can better explain what you have written. Is there a story that you can share to further explain what you wrote for your essay.

Prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Always have questions - never end with nothing! As a matter of fact, write your questions down on a piece of paper and take the paper in with you to the interview just in case you are so nervous you forget what you planned to ask.

I encourage you, the student, to do the actual interview alone - show your independence. Of course, parents may want to ride with you, but their seat for the interview is in the car not in the waiting room of the office of the interview setting.

More tomorrow!

Have a wonderful Thursday! The weekend is just around the next corner!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

POST #61 - Things to do to prepare for a college/scholarship interview - Day 2


Please email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions.

As I stated in yesterday's blog, we are starting a series on the college/scholarship interview.

Sadly, many students do not take the college/scholarship interview as seriously as they should and fail to adequately prepare. College representatives often speak about this issue and urge students to do their homework prior to attending a college or scholarship interview.

Over the next ten days we are going to talk about the following ten tips:

1. Begin preparing not procrastinate.

2. Know your school....Research it.

3. Prepare a one page resume or an activity sheet (can be front and back)

4. Prepare for all types of questions, specifically the common types of questions.

5. Determine an outfit.

6. Work on ways of showing your eagerness and enthusiasm.

7. Work on giving a story or an example with each question asked - 1 to 2 minutes in length.

8. Prepare questions and comments for the end that the student should ask.

9. Don't talk about what they already can read on your transcript and application unless they specifically ask such a question; instead, talk about things that aren’t on your application if they relate to the questions asked.

10. Always follow-up after your interview.

Tomorrow we will talk about #1 and move forward from there each day.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

POST #60 - Things to do to prepare for college and scholarship interviews!

How should one prepare for a college or scholarship interview?

Oh my, a keg of worms has been opened with this question. Starting tomorrow, I am going to go through 10 things that I believe are important in preparing for the college or scholarship interview. I take these interviews very seriously and encourage parents and students to do the same.

Just like with playing baseball or performing in a play - practice, practice, practice allows for the main event to go smoothly. One of Spencer's little league coaches always said: "Perfect Practice makes Practice Perfect!" Moreover, practice affords one the ability to gain confidence which is the main element college and scholarship committees are seeking in their students - confidence. They believe that students who have this trait are willing to step outside their comfort zone and are constantly looking for challenges.

In my 44+ years as a school counselor, I have worked diligently with students in such prep, and fortunately, it has paid off dividends. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to work with each and every student, and it has always been about taking these 10 tips and sculpting each tip into what best works for each and every student. I cannot wait for tomorrow to start this series, so mark it on your calendar to check out the blog.

Have a wonderful Tuesday; and during this busy season, remember to take care of you!

Monday, November 30, 2020

POST #59 - College Students home for the holidays?

Do you have a college student coming home for the holidays? Do you want to fill their time up with things to do while you are still working? Here are some great options to add to their resume or simply to help mom and/or dad:

  1. Call the local Salvation Army, Homeless Shelter, Food Bank, or Toys for Tots - get the picture – and have them volunteer 4 to 5 hours per day - Volunteer to ring the bell fo the Salvation Army, volunteer to collect clothing for a homeless shelter, volunteer to collect food for the local food bank, or volunteer to collect toys for various programs - each of these volunteer opportunities can provide contactless opportunities to help others.

  2. Call a local high school and ask if your child could speak to some online classes about his/her college experiences thus far – allowing students to have insight to what college looks like in a pandemic, particularly since they aren’t able to physically visit colleges at the current time!

  3. Call an elderly neighbor to ask if your child can wrap some presents for them, clean their yard, or chop some firewood - all contactless if done correctly.

  4. If a member of a religious organization, ask the leader if there is anything he/she recommends.

  5. Make a list of things your child can do to help you out – such as wrap presents, clean the yard, wash the car, go pick up items, even cook!

I understand how busy you folks are at this time of year, and my children, Spencer and Morgan, were very busy during their time home from college for the holidays. They both knew when they came home it wasn’t going to be a free ride – mom needed help and they were the ones to get it done. One particular Christmas break my two children accomplished the impossible by cleaning out a very large attic, where they were able to donate lots of items to various charity groups who were extremely appreciative of the donations, especially the coats. Sadly, I no longer experience this type of help from my children as both are now married and have families of their own.

In other words, find constructive things for your college kids to do - either add to their resume or help you around the house.

I hope everyone reading the blog had a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. It was different, but we all made it work. Now, we are in the countdown to Christmas break….come on we can do this!

Sending out birthday wishes to my youngest grand baby who turns 1 today!

Happy Birthday Sweet Clara Grace!!!

Have a wonderful Monday!

Friday, November 27, 2020

POST #58 - Thankfulness to share!

During my years working in Chatham County Schools first at Chatham Middle School 1982-1984 teaching social studies and language arts, then to Northwood High School 1984-85 (my home high school teaching English and Civics, and finally to Chatham Central High School 1985-2009 serving as the school’s counselor, I discovered some of the best people in the whole world. People who sincerely care for the children of Chatham County. I worked with teachers who used their own money and resources to purchase materials for their classrooms. I worked with principals and assistant principals who spent so much time at the school that I honestly do not know how they had a family life. I also worked with numerous administrative staff from the central office who were always willing to try new things affording each school in the county its own identity. Most importantly, I worked with students who loved learning and parents who genuinely cared about the learning process for their children. It was truly the best years of my career. I am genuinely thankful for this opportunity and for being afforded this opportunity to return to Chatham County with all of these individuals via this blog.

Each blog entry is given much thought and when needed much research prior to its posting. I want you as blog followers to feel as though you can email me with your thoughts, concerns, and questions pertaining to career and college. I want each blog post to provide good information, much of what I have lived both professionally and personally. I am blessed to share information with the folks of Chatham County.

Have a wonderful Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - if you are shopping enjoy but be careful - stay safe wearing your mask and social distancing - if you are at home putting up Christmas decorations, enjoy the memories!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

POST #57 - Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

Today is a busy day for most folks - you are either trying to finish up at work, or preparing for a huge feast for tomorrow, or traveling to the Thanksgiving destination - yes a busy day for all. For me, I am doing a little of all three except my family's feast was this past weekend. Now that my children are adults with families of their own, we have to be a bit more strategic as to when we plan our holiday events so Thanksgiving for us is often the weekend prior to Thanksgiving Day. I often spend my Thanksgiving Day decorating for Christmas. This year due to the pandemic it was only my immediate family gathering for the meal - 5 adults and 4 children. I will miss celebrating with my brother and sister and their families, but we will definitely get it back together for next year.

For our seniors who are still working on college applications, today is key - put them to work....tell your seniors they much use today to complete what they have hopefully started. It is so time to get serious about finishing the college applications, even the applications that are due in early January! Do not procrastinate any longer. It is not fun using your Christmas break for completing college applications - the goal should be to finish all college apps by the middle of December - no later. I challenge each senior to set December 15th as their college application end date!!! Please make this commitment.

Enjoy today - happy travels if traveling and happy cooking if cooking!!

I hope everyone has a blessed, socially distant, and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Since tomorrow is a holiday, we will not have a blog post, but I will be back on Friday of this week, so see you then in blog land.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

POST #56 - How does one prepare for scholarship competitions? - Physical Vigor

The oldest merit scholarship in the United States is the John Motley Morehead, now known as the Morehead/Cain Scholarship. This scholarship as many other merit based scholarships seeks individuals who are physically fit and understands the very essence of being a team member and contributing to the success of competitive sports.

The previous sentence actually says a mouthful of information that everyone needs to understand. Let's break it down:

  1. Physically fit - active in taking good care of one's physical being by participating in physical activity on an individual basis or in a team effort. Some examples are - running, playing football, or softball, or tennis, or all three! It is about maintaining a fit body in order to meet difficult challenges head on and be successful in doing so.

  2. Team Member/Team Player - merit based scholarships want individuals who genuinely understand what it means to be a team member and more importantly a team player. What is your contribution to the team? In working with thousands of students over the years, some of my most successful students in achieving merit based scholarships were not always the best athlete, but they were the best team player. Competitive - merit based scholarships like to know that their recipients have a passion for being competitive. If a person is competitive then he/she is constantly seeking new challenges. These committees want individuals who are not afraid to fail because they want to know once they do fail how do they recover - how did they persevere throughout the failure - how did they overcome it! In their eyes, people learn how to be successful through failure.

Physical Vigor is important to scholarship committees - not necessarily for the awards, but more for the journey one travels through from the ups to downs to the ups!

My advice: Find a way to be a participant in some form of physical vigor either through one's school activities or community offerings.

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy your Thanksgiving - the blog will be here tomorrow so take time to check it out!

Monday, November 23, 2020

POST #55 - How does one prepare for scholarship competitions? - Character

Last week we discussed Scholarship and Leadership and how each relates to the scholarship application process. Today, we are discussing Character.

Character is the defining factor in becoming a merit scholarship recipient. Character must be exhibited in all areas of one's life and shown through the essay questions on each scholarship application and even more so in the interview process. The type of character as well as the depth of one's character are what scholarship committees seek to understand when selecting recipients.

In essence, character comes in many forms. First, true character shows best when no one is looking; in other words, one does what he/she does because he/she genuinely desires to do so not because someone is looking or for a reward but he/she seeks simply to do good. For example, a student's grades are an excellent show of character. They perform academically because they desire to do well and learn for the sake of learning or for the love of learning not because someone is watching them or they will receive an excellent grade or even money for their grades. Another example, a student helps an elderly person carry his/her groceries to the car or a new student is sitting alone in the cafeteria so another student goes over to sit with him/her and welcomes the new student to the school - not because someone might be watching but because it is the right thing to do. Another example might be when a student is taking a test and he/she suddenly realizes the teacher has left the overhead on that shows all the answers so the student goes up and quietly turns the machine off. Depth of character such as these examples begins to seep into other areas of one's life constantly developing one's character and one soon realizes that he/she is in a learning environment where every instance creates the opportunity to grow and deepen one's character.

Another form of character is the service a student performs. Are students completing service projects because the school or a club requires it or is the student finding service projects on his or her own or is he or she creating service projects for him/herself and others. Scholarship organizations want to see students who have taken their service to the next level - they have worked their way up through service projects to where the student is leading or creating the project.

Scholarship committees desperately seek students who understand the meaning of practicing a worthy character, where others are put before oneself. As my momma always said, it takes a lifetime to build a good, strong character and only a second to destroy it! Build it and protect it with all your might; it will be worth it.

My advice: Each student should find ways to develop and build his/her character; and then he/she should guard it with every ounce of his/her strength.

Tomorrow, it is all about the element of physical vigor in the scholarship process.

Have a wonderful Monday and an even greater week as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week!

Friday, November 20, 2020

POST #54 - How does one prepare for scholarship competitions? - Leadership

As a side note let's define what Merit Scholarships are: Merit Scholarships are solely based on the student's accomplishments through Scholarship, Leadership, Character/Service, and in some cases Physical Vigor - merit scholarships have nothing to do with need or financial aid.

Yesterday, in the blog post, we fully discussed Academic Scholarship; and today, it is all about Leadership.

It is a known fact that merit scholarship organizations and foundations seek, most often, the well-rounded student; and a major aspect scholarship committees look for in this well-roundedness is the student's ability to lead. Is there a pattern to the student's leadership? Has there been growth in the leadership? Does the student step outside his/her comfort zone in order to lead? Does the student lead for the betterment of his school and/or community?

A huge part of the leadership element is understanding one's own leadership style and developing it while in high school both in your school and in your community. For these scholarship organizations, they want to select individuals who sincerely and genuinely have the desire to lead; it is a passion for the student. They seek these individuals because they want their recipients to further grow in leadership and then play a vital role in the leadership on their college campus and of our world.

So, how does a student attempt to develop his/her leadership skills and a leadership style? For most students, middle school and high school are wonderful places to explore numerous opportunities in leadership. Fortunately, Chatham County Schools offer lots of different ways to build one's leadership, as well as the Chatham County/Pittsboro community. To show growth in leadership, the student should begin to be a part of clubs and organizations offered by the school and community, as well as being a member of a team.

Speaking of being a member of a team, this aspect alone is most important in leadership development. Why? Because, when one knows how to be a team member/team player then one understands being a follower and being a leader and sometimes one is much more important than the other depending on the situation. When I say team, I don't always mean a sports team - maybe it's the school's robotics team, the quiz bowl team, or a DECA team, or maybe it's the community theater team or dance team. In essence, it is about being a member of organizations, finding one's niche; and in the areas of expertise, it is about stepping forward and being a leader; and in areas of weakness, it is about being an active follower - in both cases focusing on the team effort and team goals is paramount.

As parents, encourage your children to get involved in their school and community! Yes, it is hard work and time consuming for us as parents, but it is well worth the effort for your children. When we are old and gray, our children will be our leaders whether they are prepared or not - I vote for them to be prepared - and our schools and our communities provide numerous opportunities for them to hone their skills and find the leadership style that best suits their personalities!

My advice: Find ways that fit your personality and passions in which to lead in as the student enters middle and high school. Use these opportunities to develop one's leadership style and to gain skills in becoming a strong leader.

Another thing to think about: attend leadership workshops or camps. Everyone needs to learn more about themselves as a leader and such workshops and camps can give a student great insight into who they can become as a leader. Also, by attending such events, colleges and scholarship organizations like to see that students want to attend such events to improve their leadership skills and to learn more about leadership.

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!

On Monday, it is all about Character and Service when it comes to preparing for scholarships!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

POST #53 - How does one prepare for scholarship competitions? - Scholarship

What do scholarship foundations such as the Morehead/Cain at UNC Chapel Hill and the Park at NCSU, just as examples, expect students to be like academically? Wow, that question in itself is huge. Well, they first look at the scholarship of each applicant. They have very specific academic requirements that they feel each student who moves forward in such competitive scholarship programs must have in order to advance.

For example:

  1. They first look at the curriculum the student has taken in comparison to what the school offers. Has the student taken advantage of as many as possible of the AP, honors, and/or IB courses available at their school? Has the student taken advantage of local college courses offered at their school? Has the student stepped outside his/her comfort zone curriculum-wise to enhance his/her academic program? Academically, to be strongly competitive for these type of merit scholarships, one's curriculum should consist of 8 to 12 AP, IB courses, or college dual enrollment courses that count as AP, and 10 to 15 Honors courses with electives being in a specific area that are carried out throughout high school such as 4 years of art: Art I, Art II, AP Art History, AP Art Studio Design or Marching Band all four years, or Drama all four years - or four years of business courses - or four years of agriculture courses - or four years of ROTC - or four years of journalism - or four years of engineering courses - in other words a strong concentration in a specific area of interest. Why? Because it shows dedication and allows for the student to fully develop in something that he/she might carry over to the next level. It is all about the planning!!

  2. The second item the scholarship committees scrutinize on the student's transcript is each and every grade - seeking the most challenged who have made the very best grades.

  3. The third item scholarship committees examine will be the GPA weighted and unweighted as well as class rank (if provided by the school and all public high schools provide a class rank). The class rank is most important because it is the most efficient way for the scholarship foundation to compare students from the same school who have had the exact same opportunities. For these high profile scholarships, students need to be in the top ten percent of their senior class and in most cases the top 5%. For example, if you have 300 in a senior class then the top 10% would be the top 30 and the top 5% would be the top 15.

  4. Fourth, to round out the scholarship process, SAT scores and/or ACT scores are a top priority except for this year. For most merit scholarships, students need to be over 1300 on the SAT's Evidenced Reading and Math combined scores (650+ ER and 650+ M) with a solid writing score of 650+; and on the ACT, students need to have a composite score of no lower than 29 which converts to a 1300 on the SAT CR/M. For scholarship purposes, I can assure you that these scores are far more important than they are for admissions purposes. For the past several years, students who had a strong class rank of number 1 or 2 might be okay with an SAT of 1260 and a student with a rank of 9, 10, or 11 might be okay with a 1390 SAT. In other words, where there is a deficit on the transcript then the student needs to make up for it elsewhere on the transcript.

You know, it is really funny but these are the first things colleges look at as well when seeking the students they will accept - simply with a wider range for each category. My point is: a student should always strive for the best - if one falls short by a little or a lot - at least they are still on track to meet the requirements of the most competitive colleges.

Personally, I told both of my children to strive to be in the top 10% of their graduating class; and if they did, they would have scholarship options - it might not be the prestigious Morehead/Cain (which neither of my children wanted to go to Carolina) or the highly respected Park Scholarship - but something would come their way. I also told them that even though Spencer wanted to play Division I Baseball and Morgan wanted to play volleyball or softball with her preference being softball that I would only agree to it if they accepted academic scholarships - we would not be considering athletic scholarships. My reasoning is simple: if you have a career ending athletic injury then the scholarship can and is often lost; whereas, an academic scholarship has the criteria of maintaining a specific GPA while in college. For Spencer with his academic scholarships, he had to maintain a 3.4 GPA; and for Morgan, she had to maintain a 3.5 GPA in order to keep the scholarships awarded at high school graduation. As a mom, I loved this requirement, and I made it very clear to both children that it was these scholarships that afforded them the opportunity to attend a private college in North Carolina - if they did not maintain the GPA then they would have to move to a public university that mom could afford and most likely forfeit playing ball. Thank goodness they stuck to the Andrews' game plan!!

Tomorrow, Friday, we will discuss leadership and how it fits into the scholarship process.

Happy Thursday - have a great day and get ready for a blessed weekend; it is coming soon!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

POST #52 - Scholarships - how to find them and then what??

In early December, the oldest solely merit based scholarship in the United States will contact the students, approximately 200 to 225 out of more than 2,000 who applied, who have been selected to proceed in the prestigious Morehead/Cain Scholarship competition at UNC Chapel Hill. These semi-finalists will compete in January for a spot in the finalists round of approximately 125 students that will occur in late February or early March to select the final group of approximately 50+ recipients.

During the next week of December, the Park Scholarship at NCSU will notify its semifinalists who will follow a similar path of competition. There are numerous scholarships available and the students who are rewarded are the ones who started at a young age striving to perform academically at a very high level. They are the students who constantly challenge themselves with taking the most difficult courses and seek to achieve at the highest levels in all areas of their life.

For our younger students who are in middle school and early years of high school, it is important for them to understand what such scholarships are looking for in their recipients. For the remainder of this week and into next week we will talk each day about a different aspect most merit scholarships - like that of the Morehead/Cain and Park Scholarships seek in the individuals they award scholarships to each year. Fortunately, most colleges have some form of merit scholarship competition, so it is wise to understand what is expected of a candidate.

Thursday - Scholarship

Friday - Leadership

Next Monday - Character and Service

Next Tuesday - Physical Vigor

Happy Wednesday - Thanksgiving break is coming soon - hang in there.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

POST #51 - Scholarships - how to find them?

As we begin to see the college application, in some cases, begin to slow down, particularly after December 1, then it is time, if a student hasn’t already, to start the scholarship application process. How do you find scholarships? Trust me, finding scholarships and completing the applications is like having a job. The process requires work and time management.

This year on the Common App platform a scholarship search engine was added. It is called Scholar Snapp. Another scholarship search engine is, and truthfully, it has been my go to search engine for many, many years. I like the way it makes the scholarship search seem a little easier. How does it make scholarship search easier?

  1. Students complete a survey answering questions about the student’s interest, school involvement, and community involvement. Take about 45 minutes to complete.

  2. Parents complete a survey answering questions about their involvement in community activities. Takes about 30 minutes to complete.

  3. Students will put all schools they plan to apply to or have applied to into the Fastweb survey.

  4. Students input information about majors and possible careers they are interested in.

Once a student has completed the survey, they will begin to receive emails about scholarships related to the colleges they put into the survey as well as scholarships related to majors and career selections. These scholarship competitions will email a student 6 week prior to the deadline, 3 week prior, 2 weeks prior, 1 week prior, 3 days prior and the day of the deadline. Students cannot mess up with such reminders. A student’s email will fill quickly with lots of scholarship applications; a student cannot possibly complete them all so choose carefully. We will talk more about this tomorrow.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 16, 2020

POST #50 - Reminders!

This post is a simple reminder to each Chatham County high school’s set of seniors and the parents of those seniors. Remember to read daily the announcements on your school’s website. I have tried my best to daily look at each school’s website, and I have discovered that your schools are doing their best to keep the students and parents informed. They are announcing things that deal with Driver’s Education, Yearbook purchases, technology help, information about events that are coming up, college info, scholarship info, summer enrichment programs, and the list goes on and on.

One of the most important things I saw on the Chatham Central Website is the registration for the PSAT that is set to be administered at each high school on January 26th. Students at CCHS must register online for the PSAT. I see that the PSAT is only going to be offered to 11th graders at the cost of $17.00. All juniors should take the PSAT their junior year because it is the year that it counts for the student to compete in the National Merit Competition. Plus, the PSAT is excellent practice for the SAT. Please juniors take the time to look on your school’s website to complete this registration process. If you don’t see it on your school’s website, then contact your school counselor.

On Jordan Matthews’ Website, I noticed the PSAT link, and I saw that seniors are being urged to complete graduation cap and gown orders by November 30th. It might be wise to check your high school for information on cap and gown orders if you haven’t already heard about the process.

Chatham School of Science and Engineering on the campus of Central Carolina Community College is announcing the application deadline for applying to the school. The deadline is January 29, 2021 - please if you are interested in attending this school, then you must apply by the January 29, 2021 date - go to the school’s website to learn more.

Northwood High School is announcing that they are extending the deadline for its seniors to purchase cap and gown for graduation 2021. Please follow through if you haven’t completed this process.

If something is missing on your school’s website that you have heard other students are doing at other high schools, just ask someone at your school about it. One of the best lessons you can learn from anything I can possibly say on the blog is to: Learn to be your own best advocate. When you don’t know something…..ASK!!!

Have a great Monday and an even better week!

Friday, November 13, 2020

POST #49 – Have I chosen the right career?

As a side note to the blog post today.....I know its Friday the 13th - move intentionally today and share kindness and understanding to all the people you meet! Greet people with a smile, show love, and be a good friend!

On to the post - Have I chosen the right career?

Just a few weeks ago I received a frantic call from a mom on the west coast who had found me last year by way of my website to assist her youngest daughter with the college application process and scholarship process. I worked diligently with this young lady through Skype and finally meeting her in person on a cold day in February while she visited a local college. This particular young lady ended up at a prestigious university in the mid-west on a full-ride scholarship.

This time her call was for the oldest daughter who is currently a sophomore at Duke University in pre-med Neuroscience. Immediately through our cordial hellos and catch up conversation, I could hear the concern in this mom’s voice. I said what’s wrong….how can I help you. She poured her heart out to me and I listened. Her daughter at Duke was feeling like she was not wanting to pursue medical school any longer to be a neurosurgeon. She wasn’t happy and was feeling tramped since she was already into her second year. Mom asked me to meet with her and help her through this crisis; she and her husband did not care what she decided to do, but whatever it was….she wanted me to help her find her direction again.

After meeting several times and doing some major research through the Internet and in talking with various professionals, I was able to present her with an option that she has fallen in love with, and it has ignited her eagerness to push onward. She will continue with the neuroscience and add-on a minor in business/marketing, which will open all kinds of doors for her with careers. I also found a new career that has just surfaced in the last few years called Neuromarketing, which is a career in marketing where a person is able to help marketing firms understand the brain and how it responds to specific advertising techniques. She particularly loves this new approach to marketing because it marries her two loves: business and medical science. This new career is so new that there aren’t any college majors developed for it.

However, as I dug a little more, I discovered that Duke allows students to create their own major by presenting their plan to a board – this young lady is going to be breaking new educational groundwork that will affect not only her but all who come after her. And, what better way to show a marketing firm that you have what it takes than to create and sell your own program of study to Duke University!!

Now, we must plan the program. I love, love, love my job!!!

The point is: Most students change their major once they start college - 80% or more. Never completely give up on your dreams, but always look to see if there are new and exciting ways to fuse your loves into a career. Also, find a college that allows for your creative inner being to develop your own path – many colleges afford students this option.

My advice: Seek help when you come to a crossroads – there is such power in knowledge and your best resources are the people who have lived it!

Have a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend - I hear it is going to be a beautiful one!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

POST #48 – A Blog Follower wants to know…..Do colleges and employers really check out social media on applicants?

YES and YES!!!! It is a known fact that employers look on all forms of social media concerning what potential employees follow, post, and Instagram and so on and so forth! Well, guess what….many and most colleges are doing the same.

Everything on social media is a footprint for the public to see and this includes colleges. Any and all things can be seen on social media dating back to the very first post or login someone has done.

Has social media been a reason a college has denied a student….the answer to that question is a resounding YES! Just this past spring numerous students who had been accepted to a college had their acceptance letters rescinded once some form of negative social media surfaced.

I ask parents to teach your children from the start about social media and the consequences of its misuse. I believe this issue will become even more prevalent in the next two to three years. Colleges do not want to deal with negativity in any manner much less negativity that spreads quickly in a matter of minutes to a worldwide audience so they simply do not accept those who pose a risk of portraying themselves as well as their college or university in such a way! Think before you click!! A bad click now can result in life altering heartbreak in the future.

In many ways, social media is awesome – for example, this very informative blog – lol!! And in other ways, social media is extremely negative because it is used in the wrong way and individuals fail to understand and comprehend the full ramifications of their words, actions, pictures, videos, and so forth! Make this topic a frequent topic in your family - it is a topic that needs repetition to our young people.

My advice: Talk to your children about how their social media can affect them in attaining their dreams – college and a job and more. My momma always told me….”If you can’t say or do something nice, then say or do nothing!!” I so agree with my momma!!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

POST #47 – Honoring Our Veterans!

Today is the perfect day to talk about the military as we honor our veterans on this Veterans Day! With no school in session, it is important that our children truly understand why they have the day off from school. I know my mother, who passed away more than 8 years ago, had five brothers who served our country. At one point in time, all five were overseas in service. When I reflect on this fact, I am in awe of my grandparents to have all five sons overseas at war had to be gut wrenching. I honestly cannot imagine how my mother as a young girl and her parents coped with such a situation. And to top it all off, living their daily lives not knowing how the five brothers were doing – were they okay – no form of communication such as we have today. Our veterans and their families are true heroes; their service to our great country deserves honor and recognition not just today but every day!!!

From the bottom of my heart….VETERANS, you have my genuine gratitude and appreciation! To all service men and women, I appreciate you and respect you so much! Thank you for all you do for us….our country!

That being said, many of our students make the choice to enter a branch of the military while in high school, and I am so proud of them for making this career choice. My advice to students who are considering this choice is to talk extensively to your parents. Also, seek out veterans who can wisely share the positive and negatives of the military as well as our local military recruiters. It is important to learn all that you can about a specific branch of the military, and the jobs they offer in order to make the best decision possible.

In addition, students considering the military should definitely sign up to take the ASVAB, which is the military test. This test is also good for those who are uncertain about a career even if it isn’t military based.

My advice: Entering the military is awesome. It can lead to college and a career – but enter it with knowledge. Research all branches because knowledge is power.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

POST #46 - How does one prepare for scholarship competitions?

In December, the oldest solely merit-based scholarship in the United States will contact the students, approximately 200 to 225 out of more than 2,000 who applied, who have been selected to proceed in the prestigious Morehead/Cain Scholarship competition at UNC Chapel Hill. These semi-finalists will compete in January for a spot in the finalists round of approximately 125 students that will occur in late February or early March to select the final group of approximately 50 recipients.

During the 3rd week of December, the Park Scholarship at NCSU will notify its semifinalists who will follow a similar path of competition. There are numerous scholarships available and the students who are rewarded are the ones who started at a young age striving to perform academically at a very high level. They are the students who constantly challenge themselves with taking the most difficult courses and seek to achieve at the highest levels in all areas of their life.

For our younger students who are in middle school and early years of high school, it is important for them to understand what such scholarships are looking for in their recipients. For the next several days, we will talk each day about a different aspect most merit scholarships - like that of the Morehead/Cain and Park Scholarships seek in the individuals they award scholarships to each year. Fortunately, most colleges have some form of merit scholarship competition, so it is wise to understand what is expected of a candidate.

Can students prepare to compete for a scholarship? Yes they can - the next few days, we will discuss how to prepare!

Happy Tuesday - it is a great day!

Monday. November 9, 2020

POST #45 - College Apps - Scholarship Apps - will it ever stop??

I know that most seniors are getting very tired of the college application process and on top of that the scholarship application process; they both are extremely time consuming. Most students have likely had two application deadlines come and go: October 15 and November 1. The next two big deadlines are likely November 15 and December 1. Once December 1 rolls around the fall applications are mostly complete, but if a student is applying to a northern school or an Ivy League school, then he or she likely has a January deadline of January 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th.

As I tell my students and parents, it is wise - very, very wise - to complete all college applications prior to the holiday season, which means prior to Thanksgiving. However, if that isn't feasible, I would suggest completing those pesky applications at least by the middle of December. Once the Christmas break comes no one wants to think about working on college apps because holidays are for family, friends, and lots and lots of fun. So if I can convince my seniors out there in blog land of one important thing, I want to convince you to get those applications finished. Lots of schools ask that you have completed applications into them prior to December 1 in order to compete for merit scholarships and/or in order to have an admissions interview. Please check college websites to better understand which schools suggests this little advertised fact.

I am all about students knowing all that they can about colleges - students must become their own best advocates - if you don't know an answer to a question about a college and you can't find it on their website - call them or email them. During this time of COVID, college admission offices are even more open to these types of communication by the student or the parent, but they do prefer the student to be the captain of his/her ship.

I hope everyone has a great week - remember this Wednesday, November 11 is Veteran's Day. Let us all honor and appreciate all that our veterans have done for us and the sacrifices their families have made for everyone.

Friday, November 6, 2020

POST #44 - Checklist time!

Seniors, it is time to reevaluate where you are at with the college process:

Which applications have you completed and which ones are remaining and what are these schools' due dates?

Have you applied to at least 2 sure bet schools, 2 at-risk schools, and all of your dream schools?

Have you sent your transcripts - high school transcript (normally sent by the high school counselor in the counselor’s report) and any college transcripts (CCCC transcripts that you have to send by going to the CCCC website to send) to all your colleges?

Have you sent all test scores to your colleges? (Only if you are sending test scores)

Have your recommenders sent all recommendations to your colleges?

Have you started filling out scholarship applications?

Have you completed your residency determination status form on for any public school you are applying to in North Carolina?

Have you applied for the FAFSA?

Are you maintaining good grades?

How are you doing on this little quiz?

Please try to finish the college applications by the Thanksgiving holiday! You will thank me for this when they are done by that time!! Trust me!

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

POST #43 - The Denial Letter!

Receiving a college admission denial letter can seem like a nightmare for the student as well as the parent, particularly if the school is number 1 or 2 on the list of colleges the student applied to in the fall of the senior year. Fortunately, a denial letter is not the end. A student can appeal if the college/university allows for an appeal process, and I would most definitely encourage the student to do so with guidance from someone who understands the process and who can serve as a liaison between the student and the college admission staff.

First, prior to submitting an appeal, look on the college's website to see if appeals are allowed. If you cannot find the appeal process online, then call the college’s admission office and ask to speak with your assigned counselor and discuss the appeal process with this individual prior to doing anything else.

Second, have a legitimate reason for requesting an appeal. Stating that your best friend who has a lower SAT than you has been accepted to this college will not be a good reason and giving this reason will not garner the result you desire. There are really only two reasons to request an appeal:

1. You have recently won an award or your senior grades are a much better reflection of who you are as a student and you would like for the college to take another look at your application.

2. Something in your application was presented to the college incorrectly such as an SAT or ACT score or a grade on your school transcript.

Third, talk with someone who can help you through this process and help you better understand your situation as to whether you meet one of the two criteria listed in the previous paragraph. Have this person serve as your liaison with the college so select someone who will be extremely professional in talking with the college representative.

Fourth, with the advice of your liaison, move forward with a letter stating directly your appeal either with your new information such as new grades, new test scores, new awards or you have found a grave error in the information presented to the college in your application or its supplemental material.

Fifth, here are some reasons an appeal letter isn't warranted:

  • From your friends' acceptances, your decision seems unfair.

  • Recently, at a holiday family function, you learned a great uncle attended the college.

  • Based on the fact that your family has a legacy at the school, you feel you deserve a second look.

  • Your brother was accepted two years ago with a lower GPA, a lower Class Rank, and even lower test scores.

  • It is hard to understand that you were denied by them when you were accepted by more popular and/or better schools.

  • After visiting the campus numerous times and having attended all home football games, you are convinced that you are the ideal match for the college/university.

Keep in mind that some schools do not have an appeal process, and those schools that do provide for an appeals process have guidelines that must be followed. Additionally, the appeal process is granted on very rare occasions based on the two reasons given above!

Have a blessed Thursday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

POST #42 - The Deferral Letter

Today’s blog post is all about the deferral letter that some students may receive from some colleges. First, not all colleges send out deferral letters, but those that do often do so in place of a waitlist letter, which is the letter we discussed in yesterday’s blog post. If you missed it, please go back and read it in addition to today’s post.

The deferral letter means the student hasn’t yet been accepted by the college/university. On a good note, it also means that the student hasn’t been denied. Of course, this statement sounds a lot like a waitlist, but hand tight because there is a difference. Deferral means that your admission decision will be during the regular decision process. For example, the student applies during Early Decision or Early Action but is deferred, which means the student’s application will then be reviewed in the next cycle of applications. So in layman’s terms, a student who receives a deferral after applying in the Early Action cycle will then be reviewed again in the regular decision admission cycle. Waitlist means the student has met the school’s requirements for acceptance but will only achieve acceptance if a student who has been accepted turns the acceptance down leaving a spot for acceptance for someone from the waitlist. In other words, people put on the waitlist have reached the end of the line in the admission process and will not receive any further consideration.

Why does a student receive a deferral? There are lots of reasons but the most prominent reason is the college received lots of strong applications and can only accept so many who have applied by Early Action. Another reason might be that the admission board wishes to see more information on the student, such as first semester grades of the senior year.

If you are a student who might be a borderline candidate for admissions, I would certainly make sure to be taking my coursework seriously by making A’s in all my first semester grades.

Have a wonderful hump day! Make your day a fantastic day.

Tomorrow - the Denial Letter!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

POST #41 - The Waitlist Letter!

Reminder: Today, November 3, 2020 is Election Day! If you haven’t voted, please take the time today to vote!

As promised, today is all about that waitlist letter! It is the letter that doesn't say yes, but it doesn't say no either. Frankly, it is a letter that continues to keep the student on the fence and in limbo.

What does the waitlist letter mean? This type of letter means that the college acceptance committee simply wants to see more from the student.

  1. It might mean that they want to see 1st semester of the senior year grades. Maybe, the student is taking his/her first AP class or taking more APs as a senior and the college simply wants to see more, particularly since we ended last year in the manner in which left some students without grades. Consequently, make certain your first semester grades are excellent and plan to get the grades to each college as fast as you can. Go to your counselor and make them aware of the situation immediately and then at the completion of the 1st semester have them send up-dated grades to the college. Time is important here so it should not be wasted.

  2. In a normal year, it might mean that they want to see the student take another SAT or ACT prior to making a decision. Since the January SAT has been dropped, the next test available is in March for the SAT and in April for the ACT. This issue isn’t likely this year in the year of COVID19.

  3. It might mean that things did not jive in the application so they plan to contact the student to better understand the issues at hand.

  4. It might mean all of the above.

  5. It might mean that the student responded to a question in the campus safety section that requires more information.

  6. It might mean the student hasn't sent in all needed materials - students need to constantly check their college portals for emails sent from colleges informing them of needed materials or their personal email. I hear colleges say this all the time that they request materials from students through email and never receive a response - when the student realizes it - it is too late for the current deadline so their decision is once again delayed. Don't be this student!!

My advice: Waitlist is not the end of the world just a continuation. Stay abreast of all requests by emails and always follow-up with needed materials!

Tomorrow it is all about the denial letter!!

Happy Tuesday and smile!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2020

POST #40 - What Next?

Happy November 1st! This fall is flying by. I know it is difficult at times to complete everything that is expected of you; but hang in there, it will get better.

Over the last week or so, I have been talking to lots of my students from North Carolina as well as my students from other areas of the United States and internationally. It seems that many colleges are attempting to send out acceptance letters a little earlier this year - they are all fighting for their future students. So, what does a student do once they receive an acceptance letter? Good question, let's explore options.

As students begin to receive college acceptance letters, they need to give a response at some point prior to May 1, 2021 which is the National Day of College Intent Day - unless they are simply determined to go to a specific college or university. The reason I say this statement is because some colleges have a tendency to be more giving in the financial aid and scholarship departments. Consequently, it is worth the wait to see what each college has to offer - time wise - if you fill out your FAFSA by mid-February, then it is likely to know each colleges’ financial aid package by mid-March. Once a student and parent knows what each college is offering financially, then a much more informed decision can be made about which college is best to attend. And believe me, colleges offer very different financial aid packages - some vary as much as 20,000 to 25,000 per year - this is a huge difference.

As soon as a decision is made then the student should move quickly to complete the on-campus housing information as well as respond with a "YES" for attendance. May 1 of any year is the deadline to let colleges know whether a student will attend or not. Waiting until May 1 is not my recommendation because most often colleges accept hundreds more than they have room for so if getting a dorm room is important, and it is, then aim to complete the financial aid process by the middle of February and then complete housing by mid-March.

My advice: Set up a schedule for this process and adhere to it. We will talk about schedules at another time.

Tomorrow's blog is all about the waitlist letter - no acceptance…...well, not yet anyway!

Make today your best day, so your week will be awesome!

Friday, October 30, 2020

POST #39 - Struggling with the College Essay?

First of all – I cannot believe this post is #39! Thanks so much to all the folks who are following the blog and telling others about the blog. Remember to announce it at your civic clubs, school events, church events, post it on your work bulletin board, tell folks about it on Facebook and other social media forums – the main thing is – share the info. I am a firm believer that the more we learn together the better we all become.

I have had several emails from parents of students who are struggling with the writing of their college essays. The parents stated that their senior wanted to write something that would impress the admission staff.

In all honesty, that is the first wrong thing to do in writing a college essay. Do not write what you think they want to hear because you will miss the mark – completely. Instead, write about what you like to write about. Write a story giving pieces of who you are so that they will get to know you. This essay is your introduction to a full array of a number of people – you won’t impress them all, but you might impress a few. Write your essay like you put a jigsaw puzzle together – one piece at the time. Be simple and concise so that it is easy to read. The goal of this essay is to make them like you so much so that they cannot tell you NO. It is not to impress them, but to become likable – someone they would want to know - someone they would like to meet - someone that they see on their college campus.

Okay Seniors…..Come on now, this task isn’t hard so stop putting it off. Instead of sleeping until noon this Saturday, get out of your bed and make this Saturday, October 31 (Halloween) the day you will finish your college applications - specifically the essays!! There is no time like NOW!

Have a wonderful weekend - be safe!!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

POST #38 - What do college rankings really mean??

To some, college rankings are most important; to others such as myself and my children, college rankings meant nothing. Sadly, we are a society obsessed with the top ten - the best of the best - well it really depends on who or what is ranking the best of the best.

Determining a ranking is best done by the individual who seeks the ranking because how I rank a college might be totally different than the way in which someone else might rank that college because it depends on what elements are being used to rank that are most important to each individual.

My advice: The student should create his/her own ranking system and then compare other rankings to one's own, but do not solely go on the way others rank colleges.

Ask oneself: How would I rank this college and then ask - ¦how do others rank this college?

Ask oneself: How does this specific ranking establish what determines a good college?

For example, just recently, Wake Forest University was placed number one on the national top 100 "Most Beautiful College Campuses in the fall," Now, not that I disagree that WFU is a most beautiful campus in the fall, because to me Wake Forest is beautiful in every season, but what exactly was the criteria for making the list and how important is this particular ranking in the scheme of selecting a college?

Those organizations who develop these lists make lots of assumptions. For example, one such ranking system assumes that athletics is most important where others assume academics is most important while even others rank student life as the number one item. Where do they get their information on how each is ranked - surveys from college professors or from college students or both or neither? Other ranking systems are data driven with numbers of SAT scores for entering freshman, graduation rates, or scholarship amounts - this later way of ranking means the most sense to me.

Many professionals have recommended alternatives to college rankings:

  1. The National Survey of Student Engagement publishes a yearly survey of college students that measures effective teaching practices at colleges. I know most parents would find this information interesting, and hopefully, students would find it worthwhile.

  2. Colleges That Change Lives names and describes 40 small colleges that encourage the development of friendships and strives to establish unique and lasting relationships. I know when my daughter went to Guilford College many students told her that this book was how they found Guilford College. They wanted an education that created life experiences and built a network of friendships - they wanted a college that changed lives.

In essence, college isn't about rankings. I am a firm believer that each child is the captain of his/her boat, and college will be what he/she wants it to be. Create your own ranking of colleges; it suits you best!!

Have a wonderful Thursday! Make it a great day for yourself and others!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

POST #37 - Managing test scores and my grades while being remote…

Just as our current seniors are managing the college process for the first time in a pandemic, our colleges are too. I really feel for both sides of the coin here - seniors applying to colleges and the colleges receiving the student’s applications. Both sides are managing the process as well as they can in the unique circumstances we are in with the pandemic.

From my perspective as a counselor who has worked with students for 40+ years assisting them with the college admissions process, I find that our seniors are doing much the same as they have had to do in the past…..except submit a test score. Fortunately, most colleges have waived the test score for students (which is a fair waive in my opinion); and some colleges, such as East Carolina University, have gone test blind. What does it mean to be test blind? It means that even if a student presents or submits test scores, the college will NOT use the scores in the admissions process. As a matter of fact, even if a student types a score into his/her Common Application, when the college admission office prints out the application the scores the student typed into the application will NOT show up. Some college admission offices feel that going test blind will put everyone on the same playing field at the same place, using only grades, GPA, class rank, essays, and recommendations to decide acceptances and denials.

On the other hand, many colleges are encouraging students to submit scores if they actually have scores to submit. However, students need to consider “if submitting” scores will be in their favor. For example, if a student’s scores are below the college average score, it might not be in the student’s best interest to submit those scores. But, if the scores are higher than the college’s average scores, then it might be wise to submit scores. If this issue exists for you, please talk to a school counselor or call the college in question - without giving the college your name, just present the issue and ask what is best for you in the admissions process - to show the scores or to hold the scores.

As far as grades, our seniors need to realize that many colleges may ask to see this year’s first semester grades, so seniors need to be working hard for all A’s if at all possible. I foresee more of such requests happening due to the situation we are in with the COVID19. Last year’s second semester ended strangely, allowing students to take a “P” for pass instead of a grade. This year students are earning grades and many colleges will want to see these grades prior to making a final decision on the student’s admission decision - Accepted or Denied. Please seniors take this information and continue working hard keeping your grades up as high as possible…..and if you need to do some work on your grades, please put the effort in to doing so.

As far as grades for our juniors, please keep in mind that this year is the last year most colleges will see grades when you apply to college next year, so this year is of the utmost of importance.

Have a great Wednesday! We are half-way to the weekend!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

POST #36 - Back to the money matters to consider....

Before we start the post today, a quick reminder to seniors and the parents of seniors - this Friday, October 30 ends the free college application week. Please go to and your school counselor to know more - today if possible!

Also, your school counselor and/or school social worker and/or school nurse can be extremely helpful during these times of remote learning. Please contact them if you are experiencing heartache, loneliness, school issues, home issues, anything that is bothering you - they will help direct you to the proper person or agency to assist you.

I hear students talk a lot about going to college far away - out-of-state. They like the idea and sometimes the glamour that goes with going to a big name school in another state. If the college is the right fit, then please make certain all other ramifications are considered such as holidays and travel expenses. In my job as an Independent Educational Consultant, I have worked with lots of students who look at such colleges: University of Southern California, University of Texas, Florida State University, Texas Christian University, University of Alabama, Harvard, University of Southern California, and the list goes on and on. So often, the child forgets the constant cost of travel. As Thanksgiving approaches, many students decide to stay on campus during this holiday in particular because shortly after this holiday their college has Christmas/Winter break - some have less than a two week return from Thanksgiving prior to the break beginning. At least, this scenario is the norm, except for this year when many colleges are sending their students home, if they haven’t already, due to COVID19. In my opinion in normal circumstances, it is senseless to spend money to fly home for a two day holiday when a month holiday is on the horizon. Yet, if I was the student, I would not want to be on an empty campus either!

This fact alone needs to be considered and children need to understand the cost of the travel to these far away schools or they must be willing as well as the family to forfeit their holiday time together. As a parent of two, I am extremely thankful that both of my children wanted to attend a college in North Carolina where such travel wasn't necessary, and they could always be home for the holidays. Sometimes, it is these little things that will make all the difference in the college decision-making process. Travel is expensive - be it by road, track, or air.

Again, as I have mentioned numerous times, this topic must be discussed as a family with the decision being a joint decision. Even if you do not currently have a senior in high school but one is one the way shortly, there is no time like the present to talk about this issue with your child - get their thoughts, which might change over time, but needless to say allow them to share how they feel about the college location. If they mention something far away, then have them consider the travel issue and/or the holiday issue! It is a good discussion now and later!

Happy Tuesday!! Remember - free college application week is on until Friday of this week - October 30 - senior students take advantage of it!!!!

Monday, October 26, 2020

POST #35 - Something to think about as you start your Christmas shopping! Yikes....already!

Before we get into the post for today, seniors please remember that this week is the last week of Free College Application Week - Please take advantage of it. If you need help, contact your school counselor, immediately!!

With Christmas just around the corner and with the marketing gurus encouraging early buying for Christmas due to the pandemic, many mom’s and dad’s who have seniors in high school are wanting to buy presents that will outfit their senior for college. I remember making certain for both Morgan and Spencer that the Christmas of their senior year would be focused on presents useful for college the next year. For example, a computer with printer was one huge purchase to make along with towels, bedding, a chair or two, a lamp, and various other items for a dorm room, add winter boots and coats if the college is located in a heavy winter zone. Thanks to the computer sales folk, I quickly learned in shopping for a computer that it was best to wait until May or August when computer sales were at their lowest, so we did just that - we waited....also, many colleges offer great deals on computers and ask that students buy a specific brand of computer and the college's tech people are then able to assist students when issues arise with their computers or give them loaners when the student's computer is down.

For example.....As time evolved and Spencer selected High Point University to attend, he began to receive information from the university about purchasing a computer at a reduced rate. We studied the materials and asked a lot of questions, and we indeed did determine that going with the university's computer offer did give the best discount on the type of computer Spencer wanted to buy. Another plus for using the university's computer buying plan was that the university offered their IT staff to assist students at any time with computer problems as long as the computer was bought through their computer program. Both Spencer and I thought this aspect of the plan was smart and would be wise, and it turned out to be the best decision possible.

When Morgan started the college process two years later, we did the same - different college but the same computer offer. It was awesome too, particularly the promise of IT help with the computer, and the promise of a loaner computer if her computer needed servicing for any length of time.

So my advice to parents trying to get a jump on the college buying for Christmas presents, sometimes it is truly the best plan to wait and hear information from the college the student chooses to attend. Take heart -.I discovered that there were still plenty of other things for college that would fill the stocking and serve as wonderful Christmas presents - I am certain the parents reading this blog will discover the same!!

Have a wonderful Monday and a fantastic week!!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2020

POST #34 - Besides money - what about campus security?

One of the most important aspects I examined thoroughly when both of my children were exploring colleges to attend was the campus safety statistics. Every campus should be able to provide upon request a detailed report of the last 5 to 10 years of all criminal acts on their campus. As a parent, you should ask for this document.

In addition to knowing the criminal acts that have occurred on campus, I would want to know how the campus responded to each situation. I quickly learned that it wasn't enough to simply see the report of actual offenses, but it was even more important to see how the campus responded to each act. I shockingly discovered that campuses react to various crimes differently. For example, some campuses want to handle some crimes through their system instead of turning a crime over to the local sheriff's office. One crime in particular is sexual harassment. It was discouraging to see how some campuses "took care of" this problem. Sexual harassment is one of the leading problems on college campuses; and in my opinion, it has to be confronted head on with criminal charges in order for the situation to cease. Because some campuses handle this crime "in house," it is often the most repeated offense by an individual on a campus.

In essence, I looked far more diligently at the information about how the crimes are handled than the actual crimes because it is a known fact that crimes occur everywhere and college campuses are not excused from this harsh reality. My concern, however, is with the legal repercussions provided and the programs offered for victims of crimes; and most importantly, the preventative programs provided for all students. I wanted my son and daughter to attend every program offered by the school which afforded more knowledge about how to keep themselves safe while on their college campus. Morgan took a self-defense course twice during her college years - I would advise the same of your daughters.

I know when my son went to High Point University they required all parking spots adjacent to the dorms to be filled by the girls and the guys were to park in the outer lots. Even though I was sending a male to the school, I felt this requirement was a wise and reasonable request and one that was preventative in nature. Also, both colleges my children attended provided security escorts up until 2am anywhere on campus. I also liked that High Point University created only two guarded entrances to the college between 9pm and 6am. Both campuses had well-lite campuses and provided numerous security call phones throughout campus. Finally, entrance to all buildings on both campuses after 9pm was by key code only.

My advice: The next time you and your child visit a college campus check out its security and ask questions - knowledge is power and even more importantly - it provides peace of mind!!!

Happy Friday! This weekend, please enjoy this beautiful fall weather - I know I am!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

POST #33 - Another aspect of money for your college bound child.....

Yesterday, I spoke candidly about the amount of money my children received from me each week during college.

Today, let's talk credit cards.

Be prepared this year for the onslaught of credit card applications that will be sent to your senior son or daughter. For a while during my son's senior year, I ignored and tossed each application in the trash. Then one day, I was in the bank talking with the bank manager telling him that something should be done with these credit card companies, and he listened to my concerns then advised me on the issue.

Here is what he told me: I should allow Spencer one credit card for college. I was shocked. Then the banker explained why - He recommended a credit card in Spencer's name for emergency use only - for gas if needed, a blown out tire if needed, books for school if needed, groceries if needed, auto work if needed, and the list went on and on. Okay, he had my attention. He went on to suggest that I allow Spencer to apply for one credit card with a $500 limit so I wouldn't be surprised by a huge bill. Finally, the most important thing he said was that allowing Spencer to have a credit card in his name in college would afford him a credit history when he graduated. In a matter of a few minutes, I learned a ton of information and realized that I needed to rethink my understanding of this issue.

Needless to say, the next credit card application for Spencer we received we completed. I decided to do a lesser credit limit than $500. I allowed him a $300 credit limit. I did the same for my daughter Morgan during her senior year. I think Spencer used his credit card twice while in college, and oddly, Morgan never used hers. For both children and me, I must admit that it gave us a feeling of security knowing that if extra money was needed due to a surprise emergency, then the card was available.

Most importantly, once both children graduated from college, they each had established a credit history, which allowed them to purchase their first homes. To me, this fact alone was well worth each child having a credit card. It also taught them that credit cards are for emergency use only! This lesson alone is worth its value.

Ever since I learned this information, I have shared it - it is wise and important info. Thank you Mr. Banker for your willingness to share your expertise with me way back in 2005 - not only have my children benefited but many, many, many more have as well because I have told all individuals that I encounter who have seniors in high school.

Have a wonderful Thursday! The weekend is just around the corner! I cannot wait!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

POST #32 - The College Money Talk......Once again a blogger has asked a great question: How much money do I give my child while in college?

Good Question and here is how I answered it with my own personal story:

My son Spencer was the first to go to college for me so when trying to figure out how much money he needed each month was difficult. You see, I was working off what my parents had done for me. First, during my freshman year, each week my father would drive me to Raleigh on Sunday afternoon. Prior to me exiting the truck, he always gave me my spending money for the week - it was $5.00. Yes, you heard me right - $5.00. Keep in mind at this time, NCSU did NOT have a food service program on campus, so I lived off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and kidding. I had no car on campus so no need for gas. My five dollars a week amounted to $20.00 a month. Half way through my first semester, I found a twenty hour a week job on campus as a receptionist and all spending money from my parents ceased.

Knowing this information was what I was working with in making a decision for money allowance for Spencer I told him this story, and he became very worried. He said, "Mom, I think I need more than $5.00 a week! Please!!" I agreed, so I did some homework and almost all resources recommended $50.00 a week. Wow! That hit hard, but it is exactly what I did.

After about two months, Spencer called and said, "Mom, I don't need $200 a month from you. I have all my food, 3 times a day, provided on my meal plan; I can even eat at several restaurants off campus with my meal card. I have my car here, but I don't drive it anywhere because once I find a parking place I am afraid I will lose it, so I stay parked and walk everywhere or ride the school trolley. All of the activities provided on campus are free, so I am good. I will tell you when I need money again!

And from that point on, that is exactly how I worked it. He kept a $200 balance in his checking account. I, of course, had access to his account. I checked it frequently, and when it went below $200 I replenished it to the $200 amount. We never talked money again, and he never ever abused his debit card. I think it amounted to less than $40.00 a semester that I deposited in his bank!!

If you have a senior, this topic needs to be discussed now and the student needs to understand his/her limits. I feel blessed that both of my children lived off of what the campus provided, and guess what???? - your child can too.

Have a blessed Wednesday! The next big college deadline is approaching - November 1!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

POST #31 - What is the RDN? And why do you need a RDN?

What is RDN? - stands for Residency Determination Number.

Why do you need a RDN? - long story short:

Students who apply to any North Carolina public university must complete a RDN so that the student is admitted as a North Carolina resident who pays in-state tuition. This process is easiest completed by following the steps on the Common App, or it can be completed on Once the document is completed, which often requires the help of the student’s parents, the student is given a number...the RDN. The student then uses this number on each of his or her North Carolina public school applications.

What are the North Carolina public universities and/or schools:

  1. Appalachian State University

  2. East Carolina University

  3. Elizabeth City State University

  4. Fayetteville State University

  5. North Carolina A & T State University

  6. North Carolina Central University

  7. North Carolina State University

  8. University of North Carolina at Asheville

  9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  10. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  11. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  12. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

  13. University of North Carolina School of the Arts

  14. University of North Carolina at Wilmington

  15. Western Carolina University

  16. Winston Salem State University

  17. North Carolina School of Science and Math (for sophomores applying to NCSSM)

The total purpose of attaining an RDN is to show one’s North Carolina residency in order to pay in-state tuition.

I hope all my readers have a great Tuesday. Please stay safe.

Monday, October 19, 2020

POST #30 – Understanding Our Children

A few reminders first:

  1. Seniors - Free NC college application week starts today - take advantage of it (Oct 19 to Oct 30 - two weeks this year) Please see last week's posts for more information.

  2. Sophomores and Juniors - Ask your counselor about Governor’s School applications

  3. Sophomores - if interested in NCSSM, the application is open

One of the blog followers has asked me to speak to the issue of respecting each child’s individuality. How can a parent keep from comparing their children throughout school and the college experience?

This subject is near and dear to my heart. Over the years as a school counselor, I have heard many parents say, “This second child of mine is in no way as strong of a student as my first child.” My heart always breaks for the 2nd or 3rd child that follows a really successful first child. My sister, who is extremely successful as an adult far more than myself, taught this valuable lesson to me many, many years ago. Eight years younger than me, she was actually still in high school when I returned to my home school to teach English and social studies. She was struggling in a class when I overheard her teacher say, “Well, you most certainly are not like your sister.” Shocked, I casually walked pass the two and said, “Thank goodness she isn’t at all like me, because she is ten times better!” She smiled the biggest smile, and later told me that she appreciated my comment. However, it was not the first time she had heard such a comment from her teachers. My heart was broken, and I apologized profusely. She said it wasn’t my fault, but sometimes it was hard to constantly hear. At that moment, she challenged me to always be aware and mindful of such circumstances – and I always have!!

Each child has their own unique qualities, talents, and passions; and it is our responsibility as parents to celebrate each child’s individuality. It is also imperative that we encourage each child to reach his/her greatest potential – be it academically, musically, technologically, mechanically, athletically, or any form of talent for each child. Ironically, several years ago while in his and his sister’s middle school years, my son brought this issue to fruition, allowing me to know I was most definitely on the right path with seeking individuality for my two children. My daughter, then in the sixth grade, jumps in the car after school and states, “Mom, I am a little disappointed with my 92 on yesterday’s math test. I made two stupid mistakes. Don’t worry, I will do better next time.” I immediately said, “Oh honey, that is excellent. Please don’t be disappointed. Now that you know your mistakes; you will do even better next time! It isn’t because you didn’t study.” Spencer, in eighth grade, says, “Good job, Morgan!”

Suddenly, our car ride became very quiet. We were almost home when my son, in his usual serious tone, said, “Mom, we need to talk.” Morgan pops out of the car and immediately goes to do her homework, while Spencer and I sit in the car to talk. He says, “Mom, I don’t understand.” I respond by saying, “Understand what?” Silence……then he says, “I made a 92 last week on my math test, and you were really upset with me.” I immediately agreed with him that I was quite upset with him, and I asked him if he remembered why I told him I was upset with him. Of course, he failed to remember the most important part of our previous conversation, so I gently reminded him by asking, “How long did you study for your test?” Proudly, he says, “I didn’t. I understood everything.” Long silence…..then I said, “Well, if you understood everything, then why did you make a 92? Do you think if you had bothered to study you might have made a 100?” Another long silence….then I told him that the actual grade of 92 meant absolutely nothing to me; but instead, to me, “It was the effort put into the outcome that received my grade.” In my humble opinion, I told him that “Morgan received a 100 for effort and he received a 0 for effort.” I asked him to explain what I meant, and he replied explaining, “Well, I guess what you are saying is that Morgan worked harder to get her 92 than I worked to get my 92.” I agreed and shared with him that effort equals success. Morgan studied for several nights for her test, and he had not studied at all. He asked, “Is that why you get so upset with me, because I listen in class and don’t study?” I responded, “No son, I get upset because you haven’t learned that if you do study just a little….it will make all the difference!” He said, “But, you never get mad at Morgan.” I responded, “I know I don’t need to get mad at her because Morgan gets mad with herself. You are a different bird; you are content with being satisfied. I want you to want it for yourself; I want you to dare not to settle; I want you to never be happy with less than your best; I want you to put your best efforts into all that you do.” I continued by asking, “What if you settled for less than your best on the baseball field?” He said, “I can’t because someone else will take my position.” I said, “Yes, they will, and it will happen in other areas of your life if you settle. All I ask is that you do your best which means preparing to do your best.” Finally, he said, “Whew, I am just glad to know you love me for who I am and expect me to do what I can; and you love Morgan for who she is and expect her to do what she can!” I said, “My son, you are one smart cookie; and yes, I do love you very much! Go study for your English test!”

Children are unique souls who deserve our love, support, and guidance even when the guidance isn’t what they want to hear!!! Our success in creating individuality among our children is graded in our effort! What would your grade be?

Happy Monday! Have a great week!

Friday, October 16, 2020

POST #29 - Why take advantage of Free College Application Week

Here we are halfway through October and the next two weeks are Free College Application Weeks.

Why take advantage of Free College Application Weeks:

  1. These 40+ schools totally waive their application fee. (which means you could save money or apply to more schools for FREE)

  2. Students need to talk to their high school counselor to understand how to take advantage of Free Application Week !

  3. Apply to colleges that might not have been high on the list, but might now be a viable college choice.

  4. Remember that this week is an excellent time to apply to a 2nd or 3rd choice private college that might help in the negotiations of your number one private college choice’s financial situation.

  5. Seek help from your school counselor if you struggle with the process.

  6. Take advantage of this opportunity!!

I encourage all high school seniors to take advantage of the next two weeks to submit college applications for free in North Carolina - Reminder, here are the colleges participating:

Here are the Private Colleges participating:

Barton College................................................ Belmont Abbey College

Bennett College.............................................. Brevard College

Campbell University....................................... Catawba College

Chowan University..........................................Davidson College

Elon University................................................ Gardner-Webb University

Greensboro College....................................... Johnson & Wales University

Johnson C. Smith University......................... Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lees-McRae College...................................... Livingstone College

Louisburg College.......................................... Mars Hill University

Meredith College............................................ Methodist University

Montreat College........................................... North Carolina Wesleyan College

Pfeiffer University.......................................... Queens University of Charlotte

Salem College................................................ Shaw University

St. Andrews University.................................. Saint Augustine’s University

University of Mount Olive............................. Warren Wilson College

William Peace University.............................. Wingate University

Here are the Public Colleges participating:

East Carolina University................................ Elizabeth City State University

Fayetteville State University.......................... North Carolina A & T State University

North Carolina Central University.................. University of North Carolina at Asheville

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Western Carolina University.......................... Winston-Salem State University

All NC Community Colleges (Always Free to apply)

Have a wonderful Friday and an even better weekend!!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

POST #28 - More on Stop Procrastinating - Countdown to College

Countdown to College or C2C is located on the state’s college planning website:

This website houses so much information for students. First, it houses college applications for all North Carolina colleges: private, public, and community colleges. It is a great source of information. Students can apply to any North Carolina college and send their transcript through this system too.

For the Free College Application Week next week beginning October 19 to Friday October 30, students must apply through and they need to contact their school counselor for more information concerning the guidelines for the two free application weeks. In other words, your high school counselors have the key to the process for free application week. Here is the other key to successfully using CFNC to complete your applications for free next week:

They provide a checklist at the above link, and it is extremely helpful.

On this checklist, they ask students to do the following:

  1. If you haven’t already, create a CFNC account at

  2. Make certain your profile on CFNC is updated - important required fields must be completed such as student’s ID number, county, and current school.

  3. Explore NC colleges and universities.

  4. Save your favorite colleges and universities.

  5. Complete your RDN - Residency Determination Number - all students living in North Carolina who want to claim NC residency for in state tuition purposes must complete this information to obtain a number which is needed on all public school applications. Go to:

  6. You can complete and submit your FAFSA through the CFNC website. Prior to completing the FAFSA, both a parent and the student will need a FAFSA ID - Go to to obtain an ID.

  7. Application deadlines are provided

  8. Application fees are provided for each school. This fee can be waived next week and the next during free application week. Of course, only to the schools listed in the blog post on Tuesday of this week.

  9. Students can prepare their applications, including essays and personal statements on this website.

  10. Students can even complete a practice application prior to working on the real applications.

  11. Each college gives specific directions, which should be read very carefully prior to completing any applications.

  12. Students can send their transcripts through CFNC to all North Carolina colleges for free. Students can also see when the college has received and downloaded their transcript through CFNC.

This information comes from the site.

Have a nice Thursday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

POST #27 - Okay now....Stop Procrastinating - Get your college applications done!!

So very sorry for the delay in this post - something messed up when I loaded it; and in fact, it did not load. Thank you to the reader who notified me that my post was not up today! So sorry, but I am glad to know I have daily readers!!!

Tomorrow is one of the major college application deadlines - October 15 and November 1's deadline is fast approaching. If your child misses the first deadline at a specific college (and deadlines are specific to colleges), then it is time to put it into low gear and get this job done.

Parents, if you are struggling to get your child to complete college applications, you might want to rethink the college scene for your child. Some kids intentionally delay this process because they don't know how to tell mom and/or dad that they simply do not want to go away to college next year. They realize that if they miss the deadline it is as if they never had to face the real fact that they did not want to leave home and go away. In reality, this fact is not a bad thing they just are not going about it in the best way.

I will never forget when a student came to me as his school counselor and told me that he did not want to go to a four year college. He said he had thought a lot about it, and the most he wanted to do was two more years at a community college. He was an excellent student who could have gone to just about any college, but he actually disliked school. He knew he wanted to work with his hands and that he loved all aspects of mechanical technologies, so we looked at all the programs offered at CCCC, Wake Tech, Alamance CC, Randolph CC, and Durham Tech. He found his career solace at CCCC in the maintenance engineering program. He loved it and made exceptional grades. He had numerous job offers prior to graduating; and he accepted an offer in the area making only $5,000 less than me, an individual who has a master's degree with thirty years of experience. In less than five years, he surpassed me in the amounts of his monthly paychecks.

Personally, I love students who go after what they want to do in life. As parents, we simply want our children to be happy. Let's face it: Not every child wants a four year college degree...AND guess what, I am glad that many choose to go to a two year school to become excellent cosmetologist, dental hygienist, nurses, electricians, computer specialists, auto repairmen, and the list goes on and on. I absolutely love my hairstylist and the person who works on my car and the individual who fixes my air conditioner when it goes out (because I hate being hot....These folks are awesome, and they also make a good living for themselves and their families).

I have seen students go to a four year college to finish - graduate and then go immediately to a community college to get a degree in something more specialized. I am sorry....I was never willing to pay for my children to be in school twice! As I mentioned in a much earlier post, talk to your children and hear what they have to say - but also be willing to read between the lines and hear what they aren't saying - actions speak louder than words!!

Have a wonderful day - Humpday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

POST #26 - Countdown to College! October 19 to 30, 2020

For today, and the remainder of this week, I will be discussing Free College Application Week for “SOME” North Carolina colleges. A total of forty-two public and private schools along with all community colleges participate in this Countdown to College.

Here are the Private Colleges participating:

Barton College................................................ Belmont Abbey College

Bennett College.............................................. Brevard College

Campbell University....................................... Catawba College

Chowan University..........................................Davidson College

Elon University................................................ Gardner-Webb University

Greensboro College....................................... Johnson & Wales University

Johnson C. Smith University......................... Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lees-McRae College...................................... Livingstone College

Louisburg College.......................................... Mars Hill University

Meredith College............................................ Methodist University

Montreat College........................................... North Carolina Wesleyan College

Pfeiffer University.......................................... Queens University of Charlotte

Salem College................................................ Shaw University

St. Andrews University.................................. Saint Augustine’s University

University of Mount Olive............................. Warren Wilson College

William Peace University.............................. Wingate University

Here are the Public Colleges participating:

East Carolina University................................ Elizabeth City State University

Fayetteville State University.......................... North Carolina A & T State University

North Carolina Central University.................. University of North Carolina at Asheville

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Western Carolina University.......................... Winston-Salem State University

All NC Community Colleges (Always Free to apply)

So from Monday, October 19, 2020 to Friday, October 30, 2020 students can apply to any of the above schools for FREE! More about this tomorrow, please stay tuned in to the blog to learn more.

Tomorrow: More on the College Countdown by

Monday, October 12, 2020

POST #25 - Something to consider....

Recently, I had a parent call me begging me to help her daughter with the college application process. We met by Google Meet, and I immediately began to understand the mother’s frustrations. As I talked with this young lady, I discovered that she was applying to only the schools that her friend was applying to, and she had absolutely no idea if the school had a major in the area she wanted to pursue because she had done absolutely no research to even know what majors were offered at the colleges. Sound familiar?

This situation is not unusual; some students feel that they can only go to a college where their best friend is going. Most often, when this type of issue has occurred and has been followed through with, the tag along student is never happy and ends up doing poorly and eventually dropping out of college or transferring to another school. Friendships are destroyed and unhappiness and discontent reigns.

First, this student needs her own list of colleges to attend. These schools need to be schools she has researched and ones that house her desired major. I encourage parents to help their children with this process or find someone who can help them.

Second, this student needs to realize that she does not need her best friend to be successful. In this particular situation, college is not a tag along outing. Frankly, it is a calculated and well thought out decision based on facts and what is truly best for the student both academically and socially.

One of the main topics I discuss with groups of students or groups of parents in this panacea of college search is selecting the college that best suits you – the individual, not me and my friend. College selection is an individual choice where the student can embrace each aspect of the educational process that makes him/her the very best that he/she can be.

Ironically, both of my children chose colleges with an uncharted path by anyone they knew or by anyone alongside them that they knew. Were they anxious to be the only one from their high school at their selected college – probably – but in the end, it was definitely the best choice they ever made. College is about new beginnings and new friendships. Challenge your child to find his/her own path; challenge your child to create his/her own journey. It is a rewarding experience for both the student and the parent!

Happy Monday! Have a wonderful week.

Tomorrow: Countdown to College -

Friday, October 9, 2020

POST #24 - Calling all current Juniors...

On this Friday, let’s talk about the junior year of high school.

What are you doing to prepare for the fall of your senior year? Actually, the junior year is one of the most stressful years of high school because it has lots of demands.

What are those demands....

  1. Students should be taking their most rigorous course load since entering high school.

  2. Students take the PSAT for real – no more practice - Chatham is moving the PSAT to the end of January instead of now in October when it normally is administered.

  3. Most students, those who haven’t already started, begin taking the SAT and the ACT - I recommend working on the SAT this fall and taking the ACT for the first time in February when it will be administered at all North Carolina public high schools.

  4. This is the last year of courses and grades that colleges will see when applications are sent.

  5. It is the year that you are selecting your college list.

  6. This is the year you should be attending college open houses and college fairs - well in time of COVID - researching online your colleges.

  7. For most juniors, you are taking your first Advanced Placement course(s).

  8. The junior year is when students should most definitely evaluate their resume and spruce it up and/or fill in the holes.

  9. The junior year is the year to seek help on the SAT and/or the ACT.

  10. The junior year is the year to seize the day – seek assistance in any and all that you are struggling with concerning the college process.

  11. If you need to up your course work with more rigor, see your school counselor about changing courses in 2nd semester – check out the CCP Courses (Career and College Promise).

    Juniors – there is no time like the present – get career and college ready – TODAY!!!

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

POST #23 - Something to consider....

Recently, I had a parent call me begging me to help her daughter with the college application process. We met by Google Meet, and I immediately began to understand the mother’s frustrations. As I talked with this young lady, I discovered that she was applying to only the schools that her friend was applying to, and she had absolutely no idea if the school had a major in the area she wanted to pursue because she had done absolutely no research to even know what majors were offered at the colleges. Sound familiar?

This situation is not unusual; some students feel that they can only go to a college where their best friend is going. Most often, when this type of issue has occurred and been followed through with, the tag along student is never happy and ends up doing poorly and eventually dropping out of college or transferring to another school. Friendships are destroyed and unhappiness and discontent reigns.

First, this student needs her own list of colleges to attend. These schools need to be schools she has researched and ones that house her desired major.

Second, this student needs to realize that she does not need her best friend to be successful. In this particular situation, college is not a tag along outing. Frankly, it is a calculated and well thought out decision based on facts and what is truly best for the student both academically and socially.

One of the main topics I discuss with groups of students or groups of parents in this panacea of college search is selecting the college that best suits you – the individual, not me and my friend. College selection is an individual choice where the student can embrace each aspect of the educational process that makes him/her the very best that he/she can be.

Ironically, both of my children chose colleges with an uncharted path by anyone they knew or by anyone alongside them that they knew. Were they anxious to be the only one from their high school at their selected college – probably – but in the end, it was definitely the best choice they ever made. College is about new beginnings and new friendships. Challenge your child to find his/her own path; challenge your child to create his/her own journey. It is a rewarding experience for both the student and the parent!

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow: What should our juniors be doing at this time??

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

POST #22 - Is High School Attendance Important to Colleges!

Did you ever wonder if a student’s attendance in high school really has meaning to anything or anyone?

The answer is a mighty big……….YES!!!

Allow me to explain….

When a child applies to college or for a job, a high school transcript is requested – most definitely for the college acceptance and very frequently for a job application, particularly as a teenager and young adult. But also know that very often even for those you graduated way back when, even employers and colleges will need to see a high school transcript - it is a permanent, legal document that stays with you for the rest of your life!

In our job world, attendance is most important to employers, so they want to know a person’s attendance history and for our young people the only valid attendance record is the school record. Consequently, way back in 1994, when the current transcript was developed for state-wide use, (I know this info because I served on the state committee that developed the state-wide transcript) one of the first things the individuals, who represented the state’s public and private colleges and those individuals who represented the business world, serving on this transcript committee wanted to see placed on the transcript was attendance, specifically high school attendance. Quickly, everyone on the committee agreed. Here are the two main reasons both groups wanted this information on the transcript:

  1. Colleges wanted to see how dedicated students were to a free education.

  2. Businesses wanted to see how dedicated students were to a free education.

    Strange, isn’t it....they both wanted to see the same thing for the same reason. They were very vocal in saying that attendance meant so much more to them than grades or test scores. They felt they could teach anybody a specific job to do or course work to learn, but they had no power over whether the student attended class to learn or the employee came to work every day. It is so important we teach our children that there are lots of things that are important in the college application process and in the job hunting journey, but what is most important along the way is that they were present – in attendance, including during the COVID-19 online school.

    Therefore, if you are a parent fighting this type of battle at home, where your child misses school on a whim or fails to login to his online courses during this pandemic, then tell him/her it is not you talking - it is the colleges and employers talking. We want our children to be productive no matter what they choose to do in life – go to college then work or go straight to work – upon high school graduation….My advice is to teach them that attendance matters – it matters most! Ironically, if the student attends school regularly, students don’t fail. It is really hard to teach students who don’t come to school and even harder to teach those who don't login to their online classes. Personally, I have always felt strongly about attendance, so much so that my children never missed a single day of school. Teaching our children to daily attend school is teaching them the fundamental responsibility to all aspects of their life.

    If you are sincerely struggling with this issue seek help from your school counselor, teachers, and/or the school social worker. Sometimes things are easier to manage in a team effort.

Remember college representatives and business professionals were the ones who requested school attendance be included on an individual’s transcript; consequently, if they requested it, then it must be important to them and their process.

Tomorrow: More about the college application season

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

POST #21 - Application Season!

Yes, it is most definitely college application season. It is a very busy time and some seniors are procrastinating which will eventually be their downfall. In all my years of working with seniors and currently as an independent counselor, I have always…..always told my students that no matter if the application deadline for a specific college is after Thanksgiving or even after Christmas, they should set the goal to finish all college applications by the Friday before the Thanksgiving holiday. I have definitely learned that there is way too much family stuff" going on from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and then exams and the new semester to put this important process off past this specific holiday. In my opinion, now is the time to complete the college application process.

To me, now is crunch time. No more procrastinating – there is no time like the present. Do this process while everyone else is in the same mode and your teachers and counselors as well. If you are struggling, seek help – do not wait another day! Find a person at your school who can assist you with your questions or who will direct you…… you. Ask your parents for help. If they can't, then I am certain they will help you find someone who can. Other folks are not going to do it for you (and they shouldn't), but they are very willing to answer your questions and resolve your concerns.

Seize the day! Complete your college applications now! Trust me, there is no better feeling to know that the college application process is behind you. If you haven’t started, don’t panic….but get busy. First college deadline for many schools is October 15th and the next is November 1 and so on. Make yourself a list of your colleges with the deadline dates and abide by those dates in advance - I encourage completion of an application two weeks prior to the school's deadline.

Plus, need to finish your college applications so you can move on to scholarship applications!

Tomorrow: Is High School Attendance Important??

Monday, October 5, 2020

POST #20 - College Website Account…

Oh happy day….it is a Monday and the first full week of October!!

So, in previous posts, we have talked about making the college list (2 dream schools, 2 at risk schools, and 2 sure-bet schools)….we have talked about what colleges expect in the students they accept (9 things in previous posts)…..we have talked about student emails and FAFSA….. so in the scheme of things, if I am a senior or the parent of a senior reading this blog…..what’s next??

The next thing any senior should be doing in the college application process is to create his/her student portal on each college website that houses a portal – some do and some don’t – the only way to know is to check each college website. The portal is a valuable tool to all students applying to college because once the student is registered on the portal, he/she will have open access to numerous links for prospective students. Additionally, the student will begin to receive emails about future events at the college/university. Moreover, the college will assign an admission counselor that the student can contact with questions and/or concerns if the student so desires.

Please realize that creating this account on each college website is a necessity and isn’t really explained to students who are applying to a college. It is in addition to the common app or coalition app accounts. Colleges/universities communicate with students through the accounts on their own websites. For example, at NCSU, students need to make a Wolfpaw account; at UNCW, they need to make a Sea Level account; at UNC Charlotte, they need to make a 49er account. Some schools such as Appalachian State University will send you an account once you have applied for admission at ASU. Some schools start their account on the apply page, and it says create an account. Even though you are not going to apply to the college through their website, you can still start an account. Once an account is created, students should check their account on a daily basis to see if the admissions office has sent an email letting you know of any missing aspect of your application or later into early next year to see if you have been accepted. Please do not skip this step, it is very important to your success in communicating with your colleges.

Have a great week - first full week of October! Wow! I am loving this weather!

Tomorrow: Application Season!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Post #19 - FAFSA - Now is the time!!

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is a process that begins during a student's senior year of high school. The FAFSA opened its portal on October 1 - yesterday. It is a process that is repeated each year throughout the college years, so it is NOT a one-time thing and then it's done.

The website folks should visit is: . Please be aware that there are lots of fake FAFSA sites, so please use the website provided here.

According to the federal student aid website, there are 7 things a student should do prior to filling out the FAFSA. Let’s go over those seven things here:

  1. Create a Federal Student Aid Account - the student will need an account and a parent will need an account go to: https: will need to wait three days after your account has been created before you can go on the FAFSA site and use the account created.

  2. You will need your social security number.

  3. You will need your driver’s license number.

  4. You will need the student’s and the parents’ 2018 tax return.

  5. You will need records of your untaxed income. (child support, interest income, etc.)

  6. You will need records of your assets. (savings and checking account balances, stocks, etc)

  7. You will need a list of all the schools you will be applying to this fall.

You will want to start this process as soon as possible because money is given on a first come basis. Please use for additional information concerning the FAFSA.

Happy, happy Friday. I honestly cannot believe that we have started October!

Have a great weekend!

For Monday: What next?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

POST #18 – Prep for the ACT

Yesterday, we discussed test prep for the SAT. Today, it is all about the ACT. This test is quite different from the SAT because the ACT is an achievement test; and if you remember, the SAT is an aptitude test.

Since the ACT is an achievement test, a student learns long term from each class he/she takes and the more rigorous the subjects taken the more in-depth the study. Test prep for the ACT is much the same as that of the SAT especially in Reading and English. The ACT prep differs mostly in the Math section and the Science section.

Achievement testing such as that of the ACT is all about review of each subject area that is tested. On the ACT that means, a review is needed in English (grammar), Reading, Math, and Science.

Remember, on the ACT, a student can answer each and every question and should because a wrong answer is not penalized by points subtracted. Therefore, it is highly recommended that students guess on questions that seem impossible - never leaving a blank response (same on the SAT)!!

Consequently, the best test prep for the ACT is rigorous coursework and then strategic prep work, building on a student’s strengths and constant work on a student’s weaknesses.

When my children were taking their entrance exams, I had them take both the SAT and the ACT. According to research, strong readers do best on the ACT because it has so much more reading types of test situations. However, for my two children, who are both readers, obviously since they both turned out to be English teachers, they genuinely disliked the ACT. For them, it was more about structure. They liked the structure of the SAT and decided to continue with it instead of the ACT. Every student is different, so of course, each student needs to take both to determine which test is his/her better choice to continue testing.

Let me leave you with this one thought: Don’t let testing define who you are as a student. There are lots of good students out there who do not test well. And, there are lots of good test takers out there who are not the best students. Finally, there are a few who can do both well and some who do neither well…..but fortunately, there is a path for all students and testing is just a piece of the college application puzzle. Each student needs to be open to finding his/her path – look outside the box!!

Tomorrow: FAFSA - It’s open! What do I need to do?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

POST #17 – Prep for the SAT

Over the years, I have learned that for test prep to be effective the student must take an official test immediately following the prep.

As I stated in an earlier post, I had my daughter take an online SAT prep course the summer prior to her senior year. Two mistakes: summer and prior to her senior year!! A test prep course in the summer is way too time consuming, and it is done at the wrong time of the year. Even more importantly, having my daughter take it just prior to the senior year can be too late to make an effective change. To top it off, the test prep was simply too generalized for the majority; nothing in the instruction was individualize for my daughter. Since this experience, I have learned to approach test prep differently.

Let’s look at test prep for the SAT.

The SAT is an aptitude test so it tests a student’s knowledge potential. A student is not expected to know how to answer all the questions. As a matter of fact, the test is written in a fashion so it is virtually impossible to answer all questions correctly. Less than 1% have scored a perfect score in any one year of testing. Funny isn’t it since students are required to answer every item on all other tests they take throughout school or the answer is marked wrong. Not true on the SAT. A blank response on the SAT is simply that – a blank response. Not wrong! Not right! No points lost! No points gained! Answer a question and get it wrong still no points lost just none gained (this fact started in March of 2016).

In my opinion, test prep is a process…

This is my system of test prep:

  1. Student takes an SAT at conclusion of Algebra II for a baseline score, and it allows me the opportunity to see firsthand a student’s weaknesses and strengths making each student’s test prep individualized.

  2. Student signs up for (example) May SAT at the end of his/her sophomore year and orders the Question/Answer Service. This service serves as an excellent study tool for future testing.

  3. Four to five weeks prior to a scheduled SAT the student works with me on test prep strategies. This is a short, focused prep that is feasible for any student. (Long 3 to 6 month programs fail to hold the student’s attention and fail to see student’s practice what they learn on a consistent bases.) If a student can see the light at the end of the tunnel, then he/she is most likely to follow through with the learning process. SAT is the type of test that strategy can be beneficial.

  4. Student takes SAT using practice strategies and testing tools.

  5. Scores are returned with Question/Answer info returned a few weeks later – it will be used as a teaching tool for the next test if a next test is needed.

  6. The system starts again if needed.

    I have found short term test prep works best for SAT.
    I have found a baseline test is most important in order to individualize the learning process.
    I have found the Question/Answer Service is most definitely a value learning tool with guided instruction.
    I have found a 4 to 5 week focused prep program is highly effective for students.
    I have found that students who actively practice the strategies taught over a 4 to 5 week period can have great success on the SAT.
    I have found success happens as the student gains confidence in testing skills.
    I have found each and every student is different where testing is concerned.

Folks, there are tons of test prep out there. I am simply saying pick your timing, individualize it, and make it a doable time frame. Just know, test prep is not a one time fix; instead, it is a ongoing process throughout the testing plan.

Tomorrow – Let’s talk ACT Test Prep!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

POST #16 – How should our current juniors handle the testing issue!!

For our juniors debating the issue of testing for their college applications next year, I am being asked what should they do? First and foremost, they should not panic. Instead, they need to make a plan.

I am encouraging all juniors to take at least one or two SATs this fall if at all possible. Do not rely on the fact that this year’s group of seniors is being allowed to waive the testing requirement. This fact may not be viable for seniors next year. When our juniors are seeking a test location this fall, I advise them to choose a school system that is meeting for school in person in some manner. If the school is meeting in person in some form, then they are more likely to give the test and NOT cancel it a day or two prior. I would definitely focus on the SAT this fall and wait for the ACT to be given at school this February for free to take it for the first time. I advise this plan because the ACT is an achievement test so the more coursework a student has completed the higher his or her score will be.

If a student works hard this fall on an SAT score and then takes the ACT in February, then he/she will have a good idea which test best suits his/her testing style. Most tell me that they dislike the ACT because of its Science Section, which can be intimidating and isn’t on the SAT. Others tell me they dislike the SAT because of the Math No Calculator Section, which the ACT does not have. Others say the ACT has higher level math on it; I agree. It has about 18 questions in the math section that deals with the advanced level mathematics, such as Pre Calculus and AP Statistics. The SAT math has 8 or less advanced level math questions. Its math deals mostly with maths from Math I to Math III.

What I have learned about standardized testing for college admission is that I like working hard on the SAT first then moving to the ACT later after several attempts of the SAT has been made by the student. Every student is different and testing has been a major part of the college admission process as well as the scholarship process. My advice at this point of Fall 2020 - take at least 2 SATs this fall.

Tomorrow: SAT test prep!

Monday, September 28, 2020

POST #15 – Making a Testing Plan in normal years!!

It is imperative that students develop a testing plan as they enter high school just as they develop a four year course of study plan. In years past (this year being an exception due to the COVID19), I have cringed when I would too often hear a senior or end of the year junior say that they are taking the SAT for the first time….How can we avoid this happening? So for our future seniors, students in 9th to 11th grade, must develop a plan of action for testing.

For example, the ideal testing plan (if all were back to normal) is as follows:

8th grade – student takes the Explore Test – excellent academic test as well as career test (normally, this test is given in October to all 8th graders).

9th grade – student takes PSAT in October for practice - (normally, this test is given in October, which isn’t possible this year due to students being online)

10th grade – student takes PSAT in October for practice and the ACT PLAN most frequently given sometime in the fall - I am trying to find out how these tests will be handled in Chatham if even possible this school year considering that students are online with their coursework.

Also, whatever semester the student completes Algebra II that is when they take their first SAT because often the math score on this test is a student’s best math score. (Most of the math - 95% - on the SAT is Algebra I, geometry, and Algebra II.)

11th grade – student takes the PSAT (need to beat selection index of 117 in North Carolina) in October (if offered this year which isn’t likely in October but maybe in 2021 - each school system will decide) and an SAT in November and/or December; and in Feburary of junior year the student will take a FREE ACT at their high school (currently scheduled for 2/23/2021 for paper pencil - computer online testing has a range of dates starting 2/23/2021); now that both a SAT and an ACT have been taken the student might decide to continue taking one or the other or continue taking both. If a student chooses to take only the SAT, I would suggest he/she takes the May SAT and the June SAT - one time focusing on the Reading and English and one time focusing on the Math. If the student chooses to take only the ACT, I would suggest he/she takes the June ACT. If a student decides to take one of each, then the May SAT and the June ACT is a good choice.

12th grade – student can take the August and/or October SAT and/or the September and/or the October ACT. If you are a student who did not get an early start on taking either test, then it might be wise to take the October and November SAT and/or the September and October ACT. It is not required that a senior take one of these tests during the senior year, but most colleges recommend it. In other words, colleges/universities like to see a senior year score.

Remember, it is your best sub-score from each area that counts on both the SAT and the ACT!!! Most colleges, but not all, SuperScore testing from any and all SAT as well as any and all ACT, but you cannot mix the two tests together to SuperScore. The key is to focus on the SAT in the fall of the junior year and then the ACT for free at your high school in February of your junior year. From there, stay the course with one test or the other or continue to take both to see which test is more your type of test.

Tomorrow – More on testing - How should our current juniors handle testing?

Friday, September 25, 2020

POST #14 - The Topic of Testing for College

For years, I have studied the college entrance testing issue. I don’t profess to be an expert, but I have gathered tons of information on testing that has allowed me to help lots of students in the testing game. I have worked diligently trying to determine how students can learn to conquer the often overwhelming element of testing for college admissions. So today, I am talking plain talk about testing.

When my daughter Morgan (currently in her 9th year of teaching English at the high school level) was beginning the testing path for college admission, I had her take a summer SAT Prep Program. I learned very quickly that this plan was the dumbest idea I had ever had. The summer program required Morgan to work 8 hours a day in order to complete all the daily required work. It was difficult and tiresome. Needless to say, Morgan nor I was at all happy this entire summer. She made an “A” in the class, and for the moment - just the moment, she learned a great deal of testing information. However, there was a problem; she would not test for two and a half months; and in order for her to see the new techniques actually work, she would need to daily practice what she had learned. I am here to tell you that she did not follow through with any type of practice; neither one of us realized that so much practice would be needed. Obviously, I learned a valuable lesson which I have used to help my students. I honestly wish I knew then what I now know about testing.

Over the years, I have learned the following:

  1. Summer is most definitely NOT the best time to encourage a child to take a SAT Test Prep class.

  2. No matter when a test prep course is taken, it is most important that an official test immediately follow at the course conclusion or near the end of the course - within a week of completing a test prep program.

  3. Students do NOT practice over a long period of time, particularly when they have tons of other things going on in their life such as homework, sports, jobs, and the list goes on and on.

  4. When students don’t practice, they do NOT remember the testing tactics when it comes to test time.

  5. Students need to have their confidence built up prior to the test administration.

  6. Students can best focus when they know they only have to prep for up to four or five weeks prior to a test.

  7. Students perform best on the SAT and ACT when students are prepared individually working on each student’s weakest areas and shoring up a student’s strengths.

  8. Large group test prep teaches in general to the multitudes and therefore has very little effect on an individual’s score.

  9. SAT scores can be improved with test strategies.

  10. ACT scores can be improved with test strategies.

  11. Every child needs an individual testing plan (more on testing plan on Monday).

  12. The best time for a student to take the SAT and/or the ACT.

  13. And, so much more information and knowledge now than I knew just a few years ago.

Over the years, I have learned a lot about testing. Much of what I have learned about testing has been from my own children and many of my students. We will look at this subject even closer starting on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend - stay safe!

On Monday - More about testing!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

POST #13 - Researching Colleges During the Pandemic!!

I hope the blog readers are having a great week. Everyday can be a difficult time in this pandemic, so I am making a concerted effort to do two specific things each and every day beyond my normal day of getting ready, working, cooking, and so forth. And, because of these two things I have chosen to do each and every day, my days are so much better. So what are these two things you ask: 1. I think of one thing a day that I am thankful for; you know something different every day. At this point in the pandemic, I have a very long list. When I get down on myself and my situation, I look at this list and feel gratitude immediately and my whole mindset changes. 2. I give someone else a compliment. It doesn’t cost anything, and it makes their day. I often see a frown turn to a smile. Try it! Not only will it be uplifting to the compliment receiver, but you will feel a sense of reward for sharing such compliments. Just a happy thought for all my readers!

On to the topic of the day - Researching Colleges During the Pandemic! Ouch! Did things become more complex in this pandemic? In some ways, yes; and in some other ways, no! So in the past, students often used the following ways to check out colleges on their list:

  1. A campus tour

  2. A visit from a college representative to the student’s high school

  3. A College Fair

All three ways listed are now obsolete due to our current situation with COVID19. How can a student learn more about a college?

Allow me to offer these options:

Instead of an official college tour with a parent or the whole family, go walk a college on your own, call it an informal tour. Now if the college is running online this fall, you won’t get to see the college in its normal hustle; however, you can get a feel for the walk of the college. How far is it from certain dorms to classroom the the cafeteria or other food options? Also, check out the surrounding area...what is near the college….the restaurants….the coffee shops….the gas stations….the stores? Where will a freshman student be allowed to park? Does the area look safe and easy to walk? On this trip, you might even want to add a family picnic to the visit...we certainly are having nice weather in this area for it.

Instead of a college rep visiting a student’s school for a small informational session, schedule one online. Every college Website I have visited is offering numerous daily options for a scheduled one-on-one or group hour long info session. I have found this avenue of delivery excellent. Students and parents are allowed to ask questions, so individuals are given various perspectives by the college representatives. If you are applying to a college that looks for student interest and uses student interest in the admission equation, then I strongly advise you to make use of this scenario as soon as possible. This offer is also part of many scholarship Websites, so again...schedule an appointment.

Normally, in the fall, the college recruiters enjoy traveling to schools across our state for college fairs. Due to COVID19, all of the college fairs have been cancelled. How can a student talk with school representatives in the absence of college fairs? Well, one way was described in the previous paragraph. Another way to talk with college admission counselors is to email them and set up a phone call or a FaceTime/Google Meet session. I have found that all colleges are offering such sessions; our students simply need to start the process. Students have to learn to be their own best advocate in all that they do and particularly in the college process. These college counselors welcome questions, concerns, and often offer students a current student to speak with for more personal experiences on the campus. Additionally, most college Websites offer video tours of campus, dorms, dorm rooms, dorm floor plans, cafeterias, student store, library, and much more. If you can’t be on a campus in person, technology provides unique ways of “checking” a school out and comparing your top college selections.

In the end, my advice is to use what you have to research your schools while staying safe in this COVID19 scenario. Advocate for yourself; research in the ways available and find your path!

Tomorrow: A Testing Plan - Why?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

POST #12 – What Defines a College as Highly Selective?

Today’s topic comes from a blog follower. Thanks so much for emailing me with your question, and for suggesting this topic for the blog. I am most appreciative of all the blog followers, and I would sincerely love to hear from you. Remember my email is: – give me a holler!

What makes a college considered highly selective? It is a good question – one worth discussing. According to the college experts of the world, a college is highly selective if its accepts are less than 20 percent of its applicants. From college data presented on a yearly basis, 40 colleges nationally fit this label of being highly selective, which might seem like a lot. However, compare the 40 highly selective colleges and university numbers to more than 1,600 colleges that accept more than 50 percent of its application pool. Obviously, there are numerous colleges and universities accepting lots of students.

To give my readers an idea, here are some of those schools according to the percentages they do accept:

Colleges accepting less than 5% of its application pool:

Stanford University and Harvard University

Colleges accepting less than 6% of its application pool:

Columbia University and Yale University

Colleges accepting less than 7% of its application pool:

Princeton University, US Naval Academy, & MIT

Colleges accepting less than 10% of its application pool:

Brown University, US Military Academy

Colleges accepting less than 12% of its application pool:

Duke University and University of Pennsylvania

Colleges accepting less than 16% of its application pool:

Rice University and John Hopkins University

Colleges accepting less than 18% of its application pool:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Davidson College

To the students reading the blog: Don’t let these schools scare you away from applying to college because there are wonderful colleges and universities available to all students as long as the students have completed the required college coursework.

Remember, there are 40 highly selective schools, but there are 1,600 schools who accept more than 50% of each year’s application pool!

Again, thank you blogger for supplying this topic!!

Tomorrow: College Research!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

POST #11 – Student Email Addresses

To all the blog readers, happy first day of fall!!! I love fall and the coolness it brings. Give yourself a gift: go outside and just sit in the early morning hours of a fall day or in the evening hours. Nothing renews one’s spirit and mind better than a fresh fall breeze! Go ahead; you deserve it! During these unusual times, we need to grasp moments that allow us to unwind and decompress.

Listen up blog followers; I have some important information to share with students and parents. This info is most important as our seniors are applying for colleges and our juniors and seniors are filling out information online for colleges. A huge pet peeve for all colleges can be the student email address, which is the first introduction of the student to the college admission office. Each year, I attend numerous meetings (this year by Zoom, of course) where college admission officers share the good, the bad, and the ugly of the college application process, and at the very top of every college’s list is the unwelcoming, disrespectful email addresses colleges too often receive from students.This type of email makes for a poor introduction of the student to his/her colleges.

It is the ugly that turns a college off, and they say emphatically that the immature use of a disrespectful email address often places a student in the denial pile. They say each year colleges receive such senseless email addresses as the following: and this student was applying to NCSU’s and Duke’s Schools of Engineering – go figure!

This list of emails is just a few the colleges have shared with me. I have tons more. My advice….each student should create a respectable email to use for all colleges, such as…..

Now, this email address is simple, to the point, and easy to understand who this email address belongs to.

Admissions is all about getting a student’s name in their mind in a positive manner, so it is only common sense that the email used is the student’s name!!!

Seriously, this email issue is every college’s top complaint, so students consider yourself warned……be smart with your email addresses!!

Tomorrow: What defines a college as “highly selective?”

Monday, September 21, 2020

POST #10 Recommendations – How many and are they important?

Happy Monday!

Ah…last but not least….in this conversation of what colleges seek in their accepted students….it is the infamous recommendation. Often this part of the college application is taken too lightly by high school seniors! Many students will ask, “Do I need to send recommendations to all my colleges?” The answer in most other years other than this COVID19 year is actually no – not all schools in the past read recommendations! However, in the absence of test scores, colleges are saying that recommendations will hold a higher level of meaning to the college admission process. Even this year, most schools are still allowing recommendations to be optional; but in reality, they are not optional. I strongly advise students to discuss this piece of the college application puzzle with an expert such as his/her high school counselor, a college admissions counselor, a teacher or any expert in this arena who can give sage advice on the subject of who should write the recommendations and who needs recommendations.

As stated in the previous paragraph, recommendations should never be taken lightly by the student requesting the recommendation or by the recommender. The responsibility of the recommendation is to fill any missing holes or to connect the links in a student’s college application or to simply support the student information provided on the application and therefore can play a huge part in completing the application. It is like the final piece to the puzzle. It is about selecting the right recommenders and prepping each recommender in areas the student needs addressed.

Sorry, but as I stated earlier, too often students who seek recommendations take this part of the process too lightly and simply ask a teacher or two to write a recommendation. I know, I have now said this comment several times. I say it to emphasize the fact that it is a problem because it creates the following effect….The recommender then writes a generalized letter of recommendation that simply isn’t helpful to the application. The recommender does this because the student failed to properly prepare the person to write the recommendation.

Here is the proper way to ask a person to write a recommendation:

  1. Prior to requesting a recommendation from anyone, the student should complete a resume or an informal list of activities.

  2. Once the resume or list is completed, the student should carefully select two to three individuals (depending on the number each school requires) who will write detailed recommendations, then email each individual a personal email asking if he/she could meet (Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype) with the recommender within the next week. This meeting should be done so that the recommender will have at least if not more than two weeks notice to the date the student is needing the recommendation.

  3. At the meeting, the student politely asks the person to write the recommendation. Along with this request, the student gives the recommender a copy of his/her resume or list.

  4. Finally, the student needs to discuss with the recommender the aspects of his/her resume or list that he/she feels are of the utmost importance and would appreciate the recommender discussing in the letter (often recommenders use a form and can attach a letter). Of course, it will be most helpful if the student asks each recommender to highlight different areas of the resume or list. It is also important at this meeting to discuss details of actual events that support the resume.

If students take this route in acquiring recommendations, his/her recommenders will be most appreciative. Teachers and administrators are some of the most popular individuals who are asked to write recommendations – many are asked to write 50 or more recommendations each year. It is a very tedious task, and it becomes more and more difficult as more and more requests are made each year and for all the years that follow. I implore students to do the work upfront, and the end result will be far more beneficial to the student in the application process.

Additionally, if you are a teacher, an administrator, a counselor, an employer, or anyone who is asked to write a recommendation, do not write the recommendation without the resume or list and a short meeting with the student to best understand the direction of the recommendation. This process will enhance the recommendation and make your job as the recommender so much easier. For example, several years ago, I had the director of a prestigious scholarship foundation call me and share with me that they were actually changing their application process by eliminating the counselor recommendation. I asked, “Why?” He stated that my recommendations were so detailed and specific to the student that it gave the students I recommended an unfair advantage over all the other scholarship applicants because other counselors’ recommendations were too generic and lacked profound information. My students were an automatic yes, and the scholarship selection committee did not want to overlook an applicant simply because someone failed to be a talented recommendation writer. Trust me, I am no more talented than anyone else, I simply did my homework prior to writing my recommendation. The student prepared a resume or list, and together we discussed some of the most important items providing me with details I could use as supporting information. The art is not in the writing but the information shared.

Let me share a little secret with our recommenders: Colleges are extremely tired of reading generic recommendations. Folks this statement is in no way a throw down on our recommenders; but when a person such as a teacher is asked to write numerous recommendations for many different students, it becomes easy to write the mundane and general information that is actually already included on the college application. Obviously, a college tires of reading the same old recommendations; they need specific details and examples to support the main purpose of the recommendation, and it is the sole responsibility of the student to provide these details and examples to each recommender.

Consequently, I urge all students who seek recommendations to do the work upfront. And, I urge those who are asked to be recommenders to deny those who do not come to you prepared. We need to change the way colleges look at recommendations because many of our students would most definitely benefit from a solid and detailed letter of recommendation. Thank you for reading the blog today.

Tomorrow: Student Email Addresses!

Friday, September 18, 2020

POST #9 - Hodge Podge Friday - School and Community Activities, Summer Enrichment, Employment, Internships, and Awards!

School and Community Activities – Which is more important: that a student does a lot of everything or that he/she has been focused on a few? How do activities figure into the college admission process?

Summer Enrichment programs/paid employment/internships – How important is this element?

Awards and Achievements – Does this element show growth?

School and community activities are important to colleges. As a matter of fact, the Common App allows for 10 to be listed. Do most students list 10 activities? - yes most do, but some only list 5 or 2 and they still get accepted to college. In truth, the activities are far more important for scholarship applications than for college admissions. To the colleges and to scholarship organizations, it really isn’t how many things a student has participated in that matters; instead, it is the depth of the activity. In other words, it is the growth in the activity. For example, if a student joins DECA Club his/her freshman year and discovers that he/she likes it then how involved does the student become. As a freshman, the student is a member, but as a sophomore he takes a more active role in the club by serving on a couple of committees and maybe even competing at the school and regional levels in club competitions. As a junior he/she runs for an office, if that works out fine, but if not, then he/she makes certain to become a leader to the younger students by encouraging them to find ways of contributing. In junior year, the student plans a big fundraiser for the club that will be carried out over the summer and into the senior year. Also, the junior competes in DECA events and carries this energy over into the senior year doing many of the same things or more and different things. It is about showing growth in an activity - taking something to a new level. Colleges use the activity section to see that students are active in both their school and community OR a student is working.

Summer enrichment programs, summer camps, internships, and work are important to colleges too; but once again, these activities are more important to scholarship organizations than to college admissions. Both colleges and scholarships see such activities as students going the extra mile. These events often give colleges the idea that students have some understanding about what their chosen field of study might include, so they see these events as worthy happenings.

Finally, the idea of Awards and Achievements on the college application is something that overwhelms many students. On the Common App, there is a place to include 5 and only 5 Awards and Achievements. Some things students don’t ever think about including in this category are certifications such as CPR, First Aid, and software certifications. Other achievements might be winning a high school science fair, or a poetry contest, or academic all-conference for a sport. Students ask your parents about this section; they can be extremely helpful.

Have a great day and an even better weekend - take time to get outside in this nice weather.

For Monday - Recommendations!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

POST #8 - The College Application EssayI

Essays – Over the years, this element of the application has become extremely important, and it has become especially important this year. As a matter of fact, many schools who have never required essays are now doing so since testing isn’t required.

In reality, I am not a fan of colleges calling their required writings….Essays - at least, not in 90% of the writings! Please allow me to explain. If students are using the Common App to apply to a college, then this year just on the Common App (not including each college supplemental section of the Common App) a student has the possibility of writing up to two 650 word essays and one 250 word paragraph. (I am using the Common App as an example because it is the most widely used platform to apply to a college. Granted, not all colleges use the Common App, so students can do any of the following: the Coalition App, for North Carolina colleges many students use, and then a student might also use the college website for completing their application.) For our purposes today, we are using the Common App as an example. I will address the other platforms in another blog post at a later time.

The first essay most students encounter is the 650 word essay on the Common App. It is a writing that I would definitely consider to be an essay. It isn’t a typical five paragraph essay, but it ranks as an essay to me. Students select one prompt to write about from a total of seven. Since we know the essay is so important, particularly this year in the COVID19, students need to take writing this essay seriously. This essay will be the essay read by every college a student is applying to on the Common App.

In addition to the previously mentioned 650 word essay, students have the option to answer a 250 word writing (not an essay) where the student addresses how the COVID19 has impacted him/her. The student is also allowed to write another 650 word essay in an additional writing section on the Common App. This essay should address anything not mentioned on the application, or it has been mentioned, but it needs explaining. Lots of students like to overlook this section because it is optional, but I totally disagree. To me, it is the student’s option to tell more about him/herself. Please don’t skip this section.

Finally, each college on the Common App has supplemental writings - none of which I call essays. Most of these writings are between 100 to 500 words, depending on the college. Personally, I find the 100 words more difficult to write because it is so hard to get all one wants to say in only 100 words - like two or three sentences.

Do all applications have essays? In this period of COVID19, yes, I am seeing all colleges requiring at least one writing on their part of the Common App, which is additional to the Common App part. During the COVID19, essays/writings will be more important than ever!!!

Tomorrow - School and Community Activities; Summer Enrichment programs; paid employment; internships; Awards and Achievements!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

POST #7 - Testing - SAT and ACT

Test Scores SAT and/or ACT – Normally, the fourth most important item colleges consider for acceptance is the Math and Critical Reading on the SAT and the English, Math, Reading, and Science on the ACT. How high do I need to score? Of course, this year is different. Most colleges are waiving the testing requirement for admission for Fall 2021 - look closely at your schools’ requirements to see what they are saying in the testing area.

So, in a normal year, SAT or ACT is an expected part of the college application process. However, this year, the year of COVID19, many colleges are allowing students to waive the requirement to submit test scores. Some schools, NCSSM (North Carolina School of Science and Math) says that even if a student submits a score, it will not be used in the admission process. So, we ask ourselves: Is this waiver a good thing? Good question!

For years, back in the 1990’s, many fought the idea that testing had to be a part of the application process. We said it more often hurt a student’s chance of getting into college. Then as we rolled into a new century, we realized that we needed to better prepare our students because it seemed as though colleges were relying more heavily on such test scores. We asked our students to take more rigorous courses; and suddenly, over the last twenty years, our students have gradually increased their scores.

For example, 10 years ago, a 1200 on the SAT, which was most popular here on the east of the Mississippi River, was an excellent score. Now, in the last two years, I am seeing more and more students score at 1300 or better. Some folks, such as college admissions officers, say this increase is due to an easier SAT that was redesigned for use starting in March of 2016. I agree somewhat, but I see more and more students taking more rigorous courses, and I see far more students studying for the test. So in my opinion, it is a combination of all three that has affected an increase in scores. In essence, our schools are constantly stepping up academic rigor, and in turn, our students are stepping up their desire to achieve by putting more and more effort into finding ways to create their educational journey. I know for a fact, as I see what our students are learning, they are in many cases completing more advanced courses in high school - many of which I did not even take until my time in college. If you examine your schooling to your children’s schooling, I am certain you will agree with me: our children are learning at a much faster pace then we did.

As for testing this year, if students who have a test score that helps their overall application, then they should send the scores in to their colleges. If a student has a score that hurts his/her overall application, then he/she shouldn't send the scores in to any of their colleges. If a student doesn’t know where they stand, then I encourage any student to ask someone such as a guidance counselor or a trusted advisor for their opinion. Keep in mind, some schools are saying even if a student sends in scores, they are not going to use the scores in the admission process.

Thanks so much for reading the blog. Please encourage others to log on and read the blog!

Tomorrow - it is all about the ESSAY!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

POST #6 - GPA Weighted and Unweighted and Class Rank

Before I begin with the info on GPA and Class rank, I want to ask how you and your family are doing in this time of online classes and COVID19. I hate to turn to anything else online, but I often find extremely valuable websites that are helpful and fun. Recently, I discovered and found it to be a worthy site to explore. It has articles such as “How to talk to you children about COVID19!” In addition, Manuela Molina has uploaded a unique book in several different languages that addresses the issue of the Coronavirus, particularly a good source for children 8 and younger. Check this website out.

Moving on to the topic of today…...For the past two days, I have discussed coursework and grades. Today, it is all about GPA and Class Rank! Granted, it is self-explanatory except in a few areas, particularly this year in relation to the COVID19 situation.

Grade Point Average and Class Rank - The third most important item colleges consider when determining acceptance is a student’s unweighted and weighted GPA as well as his/her class rank. What is more important - unweighted or weighted GPA, and why do colleges/universities want both? What is a good GPA? What is a good Class Rank? These are very important questions.

Back in 1992, I served on the state transcript development committee; in other words, we developed a state-wide transcript, which was an extremely wise thing to do. The majority of this committee was actually college admission representatives, and they came to the table wanting specific things to be on the transcript - mainly….unweighted and weighted GPA, Class Rank, and attendance. These were colleges from all levels - from the private sector to the public sector to community colleges and so forth. Even to this day, North Carolina still uses the same transcript set-up. The only items that have changed are…..we now show the exact grades for final grades on the transcript and the newer GPA set-up for honors and Advanced Placement/Dual enrollment courses.

To answer the previous questions, colleges use both the weighted and unweighted GPAs….the weighted allows them to compare students who apply and are at the same high school who had the same opportunity to take weighted courses and the unweighted puts all students in that particular senior class on the same grade scale. Class rank also allows for a student to student comparison. A good weighted GPA is 4.0 or better. A good solid unweighted GPA is 3.6 or better. And a good solid class rank places a student in the top 15% for the most competitive schools or programs, and a good class rank for most other colleges is in the top ⅓ of the class or top 30% to 35%. Now, that is not to say if a student is ranked below the top 35% he/she isn’t going to earn acceptance to a college. Trust me, there is a college for every student, but it is important to be realistic at the same time a student wants to apply to his/her dream schools. I ask my students to select 2 sure bet colleges (colleges the student is certain to be accepted to), 2 at risk colleges (these colleges have numerous requirements and a student might not meet all of them but is close), and finally, at least 2 dream schools (these colleges might be a far reach - you might be in line with all the requirements, but the school accepts less than 20% who apply).

Tomorrow: it is all about testing - SAT/ACT!

Monday, September 14, 2020

POST #5 - Grades

On Friday of last week, I addressed the issue of high school coursework. I spoke to it first because most colleges look at coursework first when examining a student’s application for admission - how many honors courses taken, how many Advanced Placement courses taken, and/or how many college courses through dual enrollment has this student grown in coursework over his/her four years of high school? Colleges that are more difficult to attain admission to often seek the students who have taken the most rigorous curriculum while in high school, whereas others look for a mixture of rigor with interest level courses.

Today, it is all about Grades – which is the second item most colleges examine for student admission. Of course, colleges look for grades in the A (90 to 100) and B (80 to 89) range.
A grade of C isn’t necessarily the end of getting into the college of your dreams, but the college will look to see if the student has overcome such a grade in later coursework. For example, a student takes Math II in 9th grade and makes a C. Then in 10th grade, the student takes Math III and makes a B, and in 11th grade PreCalculus the student makes a B as well as in AP Statistics. To the college, this student has found a way to overcome the C in 9th grade and has an above average understanding of these maths while showing growth in taking higher and higher levels of math. Suppose a student doesn’t make a C in a course until he/she hits PreCalculus in 11th grade. In this case, many colleges will want to see the student’s first semester transcript senior year to make certain this C isn’t a reason to worry. (So current seniors, please maintain good grades because colleges might want to see your current semester grades before making a decision on your acceptance. I feel we will see this happen lots this year due to the fact that last year ended online with the option of “P” for pass.)

For younger students who are just entering high school or just beyond, many students and parents ask me….”When should my child (or I) start taking AP courses? And, how do I know I am ready or how does my child know he/she is ready?” These questions are common questions that need to be addressed. I advise starting into an AP class with only one or two either the sophomore or junior year - it depends on the maturity of the student….AND a student only starts such classes when they feel confident enough that they can make an A or a B in the class.

In this season of COVID19 and in the absence of SAT and/or ACT test scores (the elephant on the blog so to speak), grades are going to be even more important than they ever have been as well as the student’s coursework. Remember, students are receiving grades this fall not a choice of a “P” for passing. Work even harder as an online student; it will pay off.

Tomorrow: it is all about GPAs and class rank!

Friday, September 11, 2020

POST #4 - Coursework

Before I start today’s post, let us take a few moments to remember September 11, 2001 - better known as 9-11. I honestly cannot believe it has already been 19 years; in so many ways, it seems like yesterday. I still to this day remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the assistant principal at CCHS came in my office and said something bad is happening in New York City. A plane just flew into the World Trade Center. My heart fell; I was immediately broken and without words. I walked down to a coach’s office, and he was glued to theTV screen. I could not believe my eyes. As I stood there watching, a second plane hit the other World Trade Center tower. Now, I was devastated and extremely confused. Even today when I think about this day, I am perplexed with the situation that led to so many deaths - 2,977. Of course, we all know the Pentagon was another strike as was United Airlines Flight 93. Just think, our current school aged children from pre-K to 12th grade weren’t even born yet, so this day is genuinely a day in history for them. But to the parents, we lived it. We remember it, and we won’t ever forget it! Take time today to remember - 9-11-2001!

As I stated yesterday, a student’s coursework is the first thing colleges look at in the college admissions process. College admission officers want to see that a student has shown growth throughout the student’s high school years. For example, they define growth by adding more rigor to one’s schedule from year to year. Maybe a student starts high school with only one honors course in the 9th grade. To show growth from the 9th grade to the 10th grade, the student chooses to take 4 honors courses out of the 8 in the sophomore year. Then in the 11th grade, the student advances to 2 AP and 3 honors. Finally, in the 12th grade, the student takes 4 AP and 3 honors. Obviously, the student has academically grown each year by taking more rigorous courses showing growth in the student’s academic level and material.

For the younger students who haven’t even entered high school, I advise you to plan all four of your high school years prior to entering high school just to get an idea of how you intend to show growth. If you don’t stick to the plan, that is okay, but it is important to have a coursework plan. Now, students who are in high school 9th grade to 11th grade, please evaluate where you are currently at and make certain to show growth from this year to next year when you register in the spring. And to my seniors out there in blog land, coursework is still most important this year. You need to show colleges you are NOT taking a slack year; they look to see that you are continuing to grow.

So remember, the first thing most (99%) colleges look at in the evaluation of a student’s application to their college is the coursework from 9th grade through 12th grade. They look for growth and rigor, so please don’t take a slack senior year. In the year of COVID19 and the waiver of testing (SAT and/or ACT) by many colleges, coursework is more important than ever for the admission process.

Have a wonderful weekend and let others know about the blog. I welcome your topic suggestions.

Monday of next week: It is all about the Grades!!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

POST #3 – What Things Do Colleges Look For In Students They Accept?

Well, this question is a fully loaded question for sure! Because it is so loaded, it is a major question that no matter how young or old a student might be….it is a question that must be understood prior to making a college list or beginning the college application process! Let’s tackle this question in brevity for now; and then during the next few days into next week, I will talk about each item separately in a post.

Okay, what do colleges/universities look for in the students they accept? Well, in many instances, it really depends on the college/university the student is applying to for admission because some of these schools are more highly selective than others. Knowing this information to be true, it is first important to know a general list and then apply the list to individual institutions of higher learning.

Course work – The first thing most colleges examine on a student’s application is the strength of coursework. In other words, does the student show growth and rigor in their course selections over a four year period while in high school?

Grades – The second thing most colleges examine is the value of a student’s grades. What is more important? A in an honor’s course or a C in an AP Course? How will colleges look at the P's given this past spring?

Grade Point Average and Class Rank - The third most important item colleges consider is a student’s unweighted and weighted GPA as well as his/her class rank. What is more important - unweighted or weighted GPA, and why do colleges/universities want both? What is a good GPA? Class Rank?

Test Scores SAT and/or ACT – Normally, the fourth most important item colleges consider for acceptance is the Math and Critical Reading on the SAT and the English, Math, Reading, and Science on the ACT. How high do I need to score? Of course, this year is different. Most colleges are waiving the testing requirement for admission for Fall 2021 - look closely at your schools to see what they are requiring in the testing area.

Essays – This element of the application has become extremely important. Do all applications have essays? This year - the year of COVID19 - the essays will be more important than ever before. Many schools who have never required essays are now doing so since testing isn’t required.

School and Community Activities – Which is more important: that a student does a lot of everything or that he/she has been focused on a few? How do activities figure into the college admission process?

Summer Enrichment programs/paid employment/internships – How important is this element?

Awards and Achievements – Does this element show growth?

Recommendations – How many and are they important?

I remember less than ten years ago when this list had only three items on it – SAT scores, Grades, GPA/Class Rank – and in that order….my, my, my – things have changed.

Tomorrow: Why do colleges look at coursework first?

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

POST #2 - Creating options!

Already, I know there is so much information I want to share with you about the career and college process. I know with my own two children it was always my goal for them to get to their senior year of high school and be able to have options. Some of the options I wanted them to have were: Four year college, Two year college, Trade school, Online College, alongside Military, Gap year, Internships, Immediate employment, Options for scholarships, Volunteering in a possible career, AND the list goes on… Folks, it is truly all about options. Yes, times are changing, and we as parents, students, and a community of learners must change with the times. What is good for one child might not be as good for another child, but I am a firm believer that options are good for each and every child. I am a strong advocate for parent and child communication on the topic of career and college. In some cases with our ever-changing world due to technology, we actually do not know all the careers that exist out there. For example, five years ago I would have never dreamed of blogging, but here I am! What other jobs out there might be available to our children in the next year or next 10 years? We have to help our children create options, and the way we do that is to have our children be as prepared as possible intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

Today is the best time to start with creating options. For our younger children in grades K-6, we need to find ways of introducing them to new possibilities. Maybe, it is when we are in the car with our children driving from one spot to the other that everyone plays the game….”I wonder what type of job that person does!”…and this game introduces them to a world of opportunities. Sometimes, I am afraid I did not play this game enough with my children because both have ended up as high school English teachers and maybe that is all that they knew growing up as they spent afternoons and summers with me at their second home – the school house! Now please don’t get me wrong, I am very happy and most proud they are both teachers, but I do wonder at times if I opened enough doors for them so that they realized the world of opportunity available to them. Here is an excellent career oriented website with games and fun for K-5: Please take a look at this website with your children.

For your children in middle school grades 6, 7, and 8, there is no time like the present to begin to dig a little deeper by taking your conversations from game play to reality. Dreams can turn into reality; so keep the dreams alive. However, I would advise parents to constantly offer various other career possibilities and check them out via the Internet, through summer programs, by visiting an individual who performs such work, or all of the above. Our children are geared to be hands on and more visual than in years past simply by virtue of computers, laptops, iPads, and cell phones – just to name a few! As parents and educators, we are here to support and encourage our children to definitely believe that all things are possible! One of the best websites concerning careers for this age group is: . Please check it out with your children.

All of a sudden, high school happens and there are only 3 more years before major decisions have to be made concerning life after graduation. Those decisions start to come to fruition at the very beginning of the senior year! Students begin to think: What will I do after high school? Will it be college or will it be work? Will it be trade school or the military? From my experiences, high school is about exploration, where students can take courses in a broad spectrum of areas such as art, agriculture, drama, science, literature, writing, drafting, business, music, cosmetology, marketing, social studies/sciences, various languages, mathematics, health, physical fitness, speech, debate, politics, government, auto mechanics, computer science, accounting, tourism, hospitality, and the list goes on and on. Chatham County’s high schools do an excellent job in offering a large variety of course options. Obviously, high school course work is of the utmost importance – it can be the very thing that catapults a child into his/her career choice. Here is a list of excellent websites for high schoolers seeking career exploration:;; and . Take the time to explore these sites with your teenagers.

Tomorrow: What Things Do Colleges Look For In the Students They Accept?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

POST #1 - Welcome to Beyond the Classroom!

Welcome to the Beyond the Classroom blog. It is a blog written by me….Sherry S. Andrews. I am a retired school counselor of more than 33 years, who is willing to share good, sound information about preparing for life after high school….college, career, and all things in between, even some ways of maintaining a positive outlook during these often stressful times.

A little about me...I first worked at Chatham Middle School as a 7th and 8th grade Language Arts/Social Studies teacher for two years. From there, I moved to teaching high school social studies and English at all levels – college prep, honors, and advanced placement at Northwood High School, my alma mater. During these first three years of teaching, I continued my love of learning by pursuing a masters in educational counseling. Once I earned my masters in 1985, I moved to a counseling position at Chatham Central High School, where I served for more than 25 years as the only school counselor for approximately 500 students each year. Being at a high school as the only counselor allowed me to learn all aspects of the counseling position. In 2009, I began serving as the chairperson of the Lee County High School counseling department, where I worked with more than 1,500 students each year. Upon my retirement in June 2013, I founded the educational consulting firm, SUCCESS+/College Planning Made Easy! (Website: Education is my life, and I enjoy sharing knowledge and experiences in hopes others gain worthwhile information to enhance their own education journey or their children’s educational journey.

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in English/History education, as well as a Masters of Education in Counseling – both from North Carolina State University. I am a member of several national and state counseling organizations, and I attend conferences and events as well as visit numerous colleges and universities yearly keeping me up-to-date on the newest trends in the college marketplace. It is my goal to write an informative blog that best serves the students and families of Chatham County.

In addition to my professional credentials and experience, I have also been a parent of now two adult children, so I have lived the career and college process from both sides of the fence - a professional and a parent. My goal is to offer Chatham County’s students and parents a new avenue of information delivery through this blog. I will post daily – Monday through Friday – and I welcome your topic suggestions by way of email – !

Tomorrow is about creating options!